For almost 20 years, ZFF has proudly supported the Young Women’s Freedom Center (YWFC, formerly the Center for Young Women’s Development) as it has grown from a small but mighty organization in San Francisco, to a statewide movement, changing policies and lives along the way.
YWFC was founded in 1993 to empower and inspire cis and trans young women, trans young men, and gender-expansive young people who have been disproportionately impacted by incarceration, racist and sexist policies, the juvenile and criminal legal systems, and/or the underground street economy, to create positive change in their lives and communities. Through internships, employment, healing, organizing and advocacy, YWFC creates economic and leadership opportunities to build personal and collective power, heal from trauma, gain access to education, and advocate to transform the conditions, systems, narratives and policies that lead to intergenerational cycles of violence, incarceration, and poverty.
YWFC currently has local bases in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and Los Angeles, where they work with young people and in strategic partnerships to advance a youth-informed, reimagined approach to youth justice.
Additionally, in March 2020, YWFC launched its statewide Freedom 2030 campaign to end the criminalization and incarceration of cis and trans women and girls, trans men, and gender expansive (WGTGNC) people by utilizing advocacy, cultural change work and legislative campaigns. The development of the campaign took place over a three-year period involving more than 300 members of YWFC’s base known as the Sister Warriors Freedom Coalition.
Finally, YWFC’s Freedom Research Institute uses participatory, community-driven research as a tool for social and political transformation by collecting and analyzing data, and identifying and promoting solutions based on young people’s collective experiences. A Radical Model for Decriminalization explores and illuminates how system-involved people navigate myriad government systems (e.g., housing, healthcare, judicial, child welfare and the job market) to create self-determined futures. Building on this, at the beginning of 2021, YWFC released Through their Eyes, a detailed, youth-led research report that illuminates the experiences of 51 young people involved in San Francisco’s juvenile justice system and offers recommendations for a reimagined system.