Reflections: YWCA and Women’s Leadership Class


June 10, 2021

Students in community engaged scholarship classes with The GWU Women's Leadership program had a unique opportunity to serve as virtual mentors for students in YWCA's mentoring program. The courses give students the opportunity to practice civic engagement and leadership skills while participating in a significant local community service project. Over the course of the year WLP students supported civic action projects with their mentees and helped them learn about local and national government. They also took part in self-care Saturdays, streamed movies together, discussed college applications, created art together and much more during the 2020-2021 school year. 

This word cloud created from WLP student reflections about their time as mentors shows meeting and talking with Mentees from YWCA in the center of WLP student thinking this academic year.

Mentee Meeting Talked

Civic Action Projects

WLP Mentors Worked with YWCA mentees on a variety of projects here are some highlights. Thanks to the YWCA for their partnership and to the mentees and mentors for their work this year. Click here for more information on the YWCA and here for more information on the GWU Women's Leadership Program.

Women's Homelessness 

women's homeslessness

This project focused attention on the high number of homeless women in the Washington DC area and a service project to support them that grew out of the research that this mentor/mentee pair took on after learning that DC has one of the highest rates of homeless women in the country and that women experience homelessness in unique ways.

mental health

The POC Policy Project

This project was designed to help young women of color have people in a variety of professions to look up to. The mentee and mentor devised a project with weekly Google Forms that young girls of color can fill out with questions for a local POC doctor, news anchor or other professional.  On YouTube Live, the role models answer the girls’ questions and at the end of the YouTube Live session, the person answering the questions would propose a small activity related to their profession. For example, a fashion designer might have the girls design a dress. ​

POC Policy

Music Education in Schools

This project grew out of research that the mentor and mentee did about the academic, mental, and social benefits that come from music education and a desire to change policy so that all students can benefit from music education with free instruments and music classes in schools. You can sign their petition if you agree with them!

music education

Braille Photo Frame project


  The mentor describes this project for us which included the mentor helping their mentee with grant writing to help make this idea a reality. "My mentee had designed a picture frame that had braille engravings describing the photograph inside, as blind people can’t remember photographed moments by sight. This topic was inspired by their own experiences being blind. I thought it was a great idea, and I asked them how I could be of help. Knowing that I was a seeing person, they asked me if I could design their logo to put on the picture frames. First, I created some mock-ups, describing what they were. They are able to see a little bit, and they told me that they liked all my designs. Unable to decide on one in particular, we decided to combine all of them. A big heart, surrounded by sprites, in a picture frame with their initials in the corner.

Self Care Saturdays

self care

Students from WLP created, led and attended two self care Saturdays in the spring with their mentees. The sessions, created by Angela, a WLP student, focused mentees on the importance of physical and mental self care and were designed to encourage interaction and movement, even within the confines of a zoom screen.

Thank you for a great year WLP mentors and YWCA mentees! Learn more about GWU community engaged scholarship courses and if you are a faculty member learn how to have your course designated by the Nashman Center as a community engaged course.

We are happy to hear that many of the mentors will continue to keep in touch with their mentees beyond the course project to check in, offer help as they apply to college and stay in touch with them as they move through high school.