The YWCA of Cleveland takes on some of the greatest social issues facing us today. The organization’s mission statement is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. How do they accomplish this? Through constant engagement in the community and serving groups of people who deserve a voice in society. The YWCA offers early childhood education programs to develop the skills necessary for success later in life.
But I think the most impressive part of the YWCA’s program is their commitment to youth who age out of foster care. These youth do not have the same safety net as their peers who come from traditional family structures. Homelessness is a serious problem for these youth with 40% of homeless young adults having been in foster care at some point during childhood. Within four years of leaving the foster care system, 24 percent of young adults have been homeless. The YWCA in response to the harsh reality of life post-foster care has formed the Nurturing Independence and Aspiration (NIA) program–which focuses on permanence, education, employment, housing, physical and mental health, and personal and community engagement for youth 14 to 24 years old, who are leaving foster care.
Keep in mind NIA is only one aspect of the YWCA; they are an organization that supports many different causes, including women’s rights and racial equality. It comes as no surprise that the YWCA also hosts a Little Free Library, which helps get books into the hands of the people the YWCA serves. To learn more about the important work the YWCA is doing, visit their website. Or, to volunteer, click here.