YWCA Orange County, founded in Newburgh in 1888, has provided leadership opportunities for women for over a century. The YWCA national mission of “eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all" is fulfilled locally through programs addressing economic empowerment, racial justice, women’s health, family support, childcare and community advocacy. The YWCA serves over 5,000 people annually through programs extending throughout Orange County. The YWCA’s two core programming areas are women’s economic empowerment and racial justice.
The YWCA is committed to assisting women and their families increase their household income and achieve financial self-sufficiency. Through YWCA programming, young women professionals gain skills to advance their careers and increase their salaries. Peer-to-peer support, professional mentoring, webcasts, and informational workshops (such as salary negotiation skills) empower young women to move forward professionally.
YWCA “Women’s Work” helps women access higher wage, nontraditional jobs by providing workshops in basic labor skills, creating a network of women preparing for nontraditional work, and offering access to an extensive job bank. YWCA Orange County also operates a window cleaning business to employ and train women in the type of skilled labor positions that offer higher wages than many female-dominated occupations.
In the continuing fight for racial justice in our society, the YWCA engages the community in ongoing dialogue on the inequities resulting from race/ethnicity discrimination through workplace and school trainings and ongoing staff development work with municipalities and social service agencies. The YWCA leads a project to assist young undocumented immigrants through the DACA process, throughout the county. The YWCA Social Justice Film Series, in collaboration with the Downing Film Center, screens films highlighting the result of racism or sexism in our society and facilitates dialogue following the film to explore solutions.
The YWCA plays a major role in the crusade to fight breast cancer as the coordinator of the Orange County Cancer Services Partnership – providing free breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings to over 1,200 uninsured women and men last year. The YWCA Children’s Center at Family Court continues to provide care for over 1,000 children per year whose families are involved in court proceedings.
Other YWCA programs include: technology training for girls, sexual harassment workplace trainings, community education regarding sex offenders, advocacy initiatives addressing immigration and violence against women. The YWCA is represented on the Orange County Human Rights Commission, and is an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, Minority and Women Owned Business Committee, Team Newburgh, Cultural Equity Committee, and Sex Offender Management Task Force, among others.
The YWCA Orange County continues to focus all its resources toward breaking down the structural elements of sexism and racism that lead to unequal distribution of power and access in our communities.