The Young Women Leaders Program (YWLP) is a mentoring program sponsored by the UCF Women’s and Gender Studies Program and was launched in the Seminole County community and UCF in 2007. The UCF Chapter is a satellite program to the University of Virginia, where YWLP was first founded in 1997 by Edith Lawrence and Kimberly Roberts.
YWLP is an after-school, curriculum-based mentoring program that assigns one 7th grade girl to one UCF undergraduate or graduate woman student. UCF mentors meet for sessions with their 7th grade mentees ten times per academic year at participating middles schools. These meetings last 90 minutes and use equal parts group discussion, group activity, pair discussion and pair activity.
The YWLP is founded upon the ideals of collaborative leadership, wherein all college-level participants are invited to offer constructive criticism and suggestions to accommodate evolving curriculum, policies and protocols, and learning techniques.
The Young Women Leaders Program strives to foster competence, autonomy, and connection with others as core strengths of all young women leaders and asserts that all girls are influential leaders with innate leadership abilities. Our program builds on themes of problem-solving, teamwork and cooperation, cultural identity and ethnic pride, advocacy for positive change, identification of unconventional leadership roles, development of goals for the future, and body appreciation to develop girls’ leadership abilities both organically with others and in the world online.
In examining the social and cultural expectations for girls, investigating existing themes of girlhood and leadership, and engaging girls to empower themselves, YWLP seeks to revolutionize how society constructs girls, girlhood, and girls’ leadership by inviting girls to create spaces where they can share their real-life experiences, build themselves up and learn from one another.