For Young Women and Girls, Community Is Power

By Giving List Staff   |   November 18, 2022
AFG’s model centers on listening to girls and the issues most important to them, training our network to address these issues, and advocating for change with girls at the lead. Driven by the data and girl-driven recommendations outlined in our Together We Rise Report – AFG, its partners, and girls successfully advocated for $400,000 from Santa Clara County to implement When Young Moms Thrive (WYMT) in order to train, support, and address the needs of young moms.

Young women in the world often find themselves in perpetual combat with a system that has historically silenced and oppressed them. One organization is bent on dismantling those systems for girls in California. 

The Alliance For Girls (AFG) is rooted in what girls* and gender-expansive youth are experiencing and the solutions they want to see made real. Comprising more than 100 nonprofits serving some 300,000 girls and gender expansive youth across nine Bay Area counties and L.A. county – AFG is the largest alliance of girl-serving organizations in the nation. As a collective of organizations, AFG works for gender equity for all young women, girls, and gender-expansive youth – driven by the leadership of girls themselves. AFG’s power is in its vast network of partners and youth-led approach.

In Fall 2021, 51 applications were received to serve as WYMT research and policy fellows. Research and policy fellows are directly impacting young parents trained as researchers and policy advocates. Six research and policy fellows – all young mothers – were selected.

*Girls refers to gender-expansive youth
(cis girls, trans girls, non-binary youth, gender non-conforming youth, gender queer youth, and any girl-identified youth)

AFG was born during 2009’s Great Recession when six executive directors of girls organizations came together with a shared vision for youth in their communities. 

“If we don’t start supporting one another, coordinating services with one another, and advocating on behalf of girls and gender-expansive youth, our girls are going to really suffer in the middle of an economic recession,” Founding Executive Director Emma Mayerson says of the collective thinking at the time. That genesis was critical in helping young girls navigate a much broader disaster: the pandemic. 

As an alliance of organizations, AFG listens to the youth they serve, and amplifies their voices  in order to achieve gender equity. 

AFG’s Young Women’s Leadership Board and Youth Fellows program empowers young women to be in the driver’s seat of effecting the change that they want to see in the world. 

“My voice and those of other young women on the board have helped to shape the direction of Alliance For Girls,” says Gabrielle Battle, a Young Women’s Leadership Board alum. “Our voices help make sure that underrepresented young girls do not go unnoticed.”

One example of what AFG’s young leaders are able to achieve is the leadership of AFG Fellow Viviana Arenas, a young mother herself, during the implementation of the When Young Moms Thrive (WYMT) Initiative in Santa Clara County – a landmark initiative that trains young moms to be researchers and advocates to improve the ecosystem of care available to young parents. Rooted in the two years of advocacy work that AFG and its member organizations did to advocate for the funding from Santa Clara County to design and implement WYMT pilot initiative, Viviana worked closely with the other five WYMT research and policy fellows to engage over 150 young moms across the county in youth-led research. Viviana played a crucial role in uplifting these young moms’ policy recommendations and co-authored a policy memo that was presented to the Santa Clara County government and is in process to be adopted.

“It’s really important to understand what young moms are experiencing in the communities in which they’re living,” says Chantal Hildebrand, AFG’s Deputy Director. 


Alliance for Girls

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(510) 629-9464
Executive Director: Emma Mayerson


Alliance for Girls mobilizes girls’ champions to address barriers facing girls, create conditions for their success, and advance systemic change to achieve equity.

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My time as an AFG fellow and Young Women’s Leadership Board member was incredibly beneficial to me and my growth as an advocate. I was trained in research and data collection that contributed to AFG’s Uniting Isolated Voices Report about the impacts of COVID-19 on girls and gender-expansive youth. As a youth leader for the Not One More Girl Campaign, I advocated alongside other impacted youth to inform BART’s new policy that reduces harassment on trains and co-authored an opinion piece for Teen Vogue magazine.
Uchenna Esomonu, AFG Communications Associate (2022 – Present), Membership Fellow (2021-2022) & Young Women’s Leadership Board Alum (2020-2021)

Fund One Youth Fellow — Impact Thousands of Girls

AFG is focused on expanding its Youth Fellows Program.

“You fund a fellow so it has an impact on that fellow but that fellow is, in turn, a voice and advocate for their community, which impacts the lives of hundreds of young people, which in turn develops a policy that can impact the lives of thousands more,” says Founding Executive Director Emma Mayerson. “One fellow has that ripple effect.”

The cost of funding a fellow is $20,000. A clear opportunity for a donor who cares about the future of young women and girls is to give them the skills that they need, as a paid staff person, to make it better for their community – for generations to come.

Key Supporters

Applied Materials Foundation
Blue Shield Foundation of California
California Community Foundation
Eva Gunther Foundation
Grantmakers for Girls of Color
Irene S. Scully Foundation
KLA Foundation
Germanacos Foundation
San Francisco Foundation
Summer Oaks Fund
Tao Rising
Tides Foundation, Advancing
Adolescent Girl
Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation
Walter & Elise Haas Fund
Women’s Foundation of California
Zellerbach Family Foundation
Annie Longsworth
Raquel Donoso
Veronica Hunnicutt
Gretchen Sandler
Linda Calhoun
Lori Mackenzie
Marlene Sanchez
Mark Gunther
Rebecca Peterson-Fisher
Shakirah Simley
Tina Sandford
Shaune Zunzanyika
Sophia Andary