Our History

The Young Women Leaders Program (YWLP), founded in 1997 by Edith “Winx” Lawrence and Kimberley Roberts at the University of Virginia, is an after-school, curriculum-based mentoring program that pairs middle school girls with college women for a year to boost the self-esteem and leadership skills of both groups.

YWLP is co-sponsored by the UVa Women’s Center and Curry School of Education. By combining one-on-one mentoring with targeted group activities, YWLP addresses issues related to girls’ sense of self, scholastic achievement, body image, social aggression, and healthy decision-making. Building on self-determination theory, YWLP focuses on building all participants’ sense of themselves as competent, connected and autonomous leaders.

YWLP has served over 1,000 middle school girls and trained over 1000 college women mentors at the Virginia site since its inception. Over the past ten years, effective dissemination of the YWLP curriculum has led to new programs at nine additional sites across the US and in Mozambique. Program materials include the YWLP Mentoring Handbook, the YWLP Parent Handbook, the YWLP Sister Site Handbook, and BOOST, a tutoring handbook.


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