YWCA Alaska’s Social Justice Programming

AK Women’s Giving Circle Proposal

Submitted by Julie Varee

October 15, 2012

  Name of Nonprofit:    YWCA Alaska

  Project Name:             Social Justice Programming

  Project Description:

With a budget of $22,000, YWCA Alaska’s Social Justice Programming furthers racial and gender equity, peace, and justice through communitywide dialogue, education, and opportunities for action.

Opening Minds and Hearts (OMAH) Luncheons

The Y’s OMAH Luncheons, held 6 times each year, increase awareness and understanding of the diverse cultural groups of women in the Anchorage community.  The luncheons are formatted as facilitated panel discussions, and cost $15 to attend/$10 for students.  OMAH Luncheons have provided opportunities to explore the unique perspectives of women from communities including the following:

  • Pan-Hispanic
  • African American
  • Alaska Native
  • Pacific Islander
  • Chinese
  • Bi-racial
  • Military
  • Lesbian
  • Transgendered
  • Muslim
  • Jewish
  • Immigrant
  • Women who are cancer survivors
  • Women in mixed-race relationships

OMAH Luncheon topics also have included:

Women and Aging

Civil Rights: Then and Now

Teens Talk About Teen Pregnancy

Teens Talk About Race (All Anchorage-area high schools represented at series of 3 luncheons, attended by then Anchorage School District Superintendent, Carol Comeau)


International Women’s Day

In celebration of International Women’s Day each March 8, YWCA Alaska rallies community members to participate in the Women on the Bridge event.  Participants use their presence as a group (which varies in size from year to year) and waive signs to raise awareness about Alaska and global women’s issues.

The Stand Against Racism

YWCA Alaska participates in the annual national call to Stand Against Racism. The Stand Against Racism encourages community involvement to raise awareness of racism and challenges people to take action to interrupt and eliminate racism whenever possible. In 2012, more than 40 local businesses and organizations—including the Anchorage School District—signed the pledge to Stand Against Racism.  YWCA staff supports those organizations that commit to the pledge by providing on-site activities and materials promoting the Stand.

The Big Why

The YWCA is an organization that continues, on a modest $900,000 annual operating budget, to encourage and celebrate women in Alaska from all cultures, ethnicities, ages, income levels, and walks of life—and to encourage our entire community to address social issues.

The organization’s Social Justice Programming provides one-of-a-kind opportunities to learn more about a variety of Alaska communities and current local social/political issues, and to act on social justice issues.  The Y’s Social Justice Programming challenges community members to thoughtfully consider the perspectives of others, through very affordable/sometimes free events and initiatives that are open to all.

I have been moved by the courage of the Y to offer Social Justice Programming that challenges community members’ assumptions, urges us out of our comfort zones, and calls us to action.  The conversations during the OMAH Luncheons I’ve attended have been extremely informative and inspiring; the Y ensures an environment allowing panelists to be honest and open, and attendees to feel comfortable asking questions.

Few organizations in our community tackle the issues the Y addresses through its Social Justice Programming, and very few consistently bring the rich experiences and knowledge of women to the forefront.  A gift from the Alaska Women’s Giving Circle would help make it possible for this vital part of YWCA Alaska’s work to continue serving the people of our community.