2023 Grants Challenge

Young Mothers United for Change

Young Mothers United is a 12-week, youth-led advocacy project that meets weekly to support and build the self-determination and leadership of systems-impacted pregnant and parenting young people, including providing parenting classes, skills development, and an advocacy component to engage young mothers and community members in organizing to change policy on a local, state and national level. YMU participants also meet on a weekly basis with a Self-Determination Coach to create actionable goals for their personal and professional development.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

South LA

West LA

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Applying a proven model or solution to a new issue or sector (e.g., using a job recruiting software or strategy to match clients to supportive housing sites, applying demonstrated strategies from advocating for college affordability to advocating for housing affordability and homelessness, etc.)

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Young parents in the justice system have historically been stripped of their rights and often experience harmful levels of family separation. Young Mothers United (YMU) was born out of the need for a place for young mothers to meet and organize to work toward receiving dignified treatment as parents with the goal of addressing the harms caused by state involvement in our families. What makes YMU uniquen is the organizing capacity of the program: curriculum is designed to educate our participants on the systemic factors affecting their daily lives, and over the course of the program each cohort chooses an issue to explore as a legislative matter. It is possible for system impacted parents to be heard, validated, treated with dignity, and meaningfully involved in critical decision making about their children.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Young Mothers United is an entry point for our leadership and economic empowerment model that works to support the rights and leadership of pregnant and parenting young people who are system-impacted. YWFC's current programs are part of a larger holistic leadership development model which supports BIPOC young women and trans youth of all genders as they develop self-determination-based leadership skills, build economic power, explore new ways of approaching their personal healing, and are in community with peer leaders able to support their continued growth. YMU specifically is designed to create youth-led, transformative systems that support the healthy well-being of system-impacted young mothers, particularly black girls and women, and women of color that are disproportionately harmed and neglected by the public health care system; and support their power and leadership to create transformative systems that ensure young mothers are able to advocate for their lives and the lives of their children. To do this, YMU will reach 60 mothers by survey, retain 10 core leaders throughout the program, and provide 10 participants with an additional $200 monthly stipend. Results from the surveys will be used to develop recommendations to inform the next budget for the Board of Supervisors, with the aim of ensuring that the voices and needs of systems-impacted young parents are reflected in Los Angeles' budgetary priorities.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

We envision a Los Angeles in which young people are given the support, trust and resources they need to thrive, rather than being funneled into cycles of criminalization and incarceration and relying on the underground street economy to survive. Young Mother's United has changed not only the justice system but the medical advocacy space as well. YMU gave birth to the anti- shackle legislation that protected the rights of incarcerated birthing people. These were organized young mothers who wanted to create better experiences and outcomes within their communities. This legislation has not only changed countless families'; birth experiences in California but has also set a new legal precedent around the bodily autonomy of incarcerated people. This organizing framework further supports young mothers in LA county and develops a framework to meet their needs as they are raising the next generation of Angelenos.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Our key marker of success with new participants is a baseline of stability and meeting basic needs towards an ability to engage in more comprehensive and transformative programming. Young Mothers United has an 80% completion rate andaims to support those who complete each program to meet a minimum of 70% of the goals they identify with their life coaches in their life self-determination plan. We measure success by 90% of those placed post-completion maintaining those positions at six months, 80% after a year, and 75% after eighteen months. With this grant we would like to expand our program to include more community based research using the 50 surveys of young mothers in order to better understand how our program can better serve the growing youth parent population in Los Angeles.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 20

Indirect Impact: 60