At Last– The YWEP Audio Documentary


Thanks to the work of SoMove.Org and the incredible Blake Nemec who recorded us and worked on this project for close to two years. This documentary is about how we closed our non-profit, how we worked together to heal and talks about the political forces at work that made it difficult for us to continue on as a non-profit. Its so moving to here all the voices of young people, former adult allies and community members talking about how YWEP touched their lives.

Wondering if YWEP is still working? We are! Street Youth Rise Up– our citywide organizing campaign to change the way Chicago sees and treats homeless, home-free and street based youth who do what they have to do to survive— is meeting regularly, attending conferences, doing healing in action stations and taking part in protests throughout the city.

Our incredible research reports, Girls Do What They Have To Do To Survive and our Bad Encounter Line Report, continue to make history. Both reports have been sent to the United Nations, quoted in the New York Times and have been used by other researchers to show how young people are systematically denied help from services based on our experience in the sex trade. We also know that our Bad Encounter Line inspired a hotline in Portland, Ore and another research tool in Chicago that is tracking young people’s experience with policing. Check out We Charge Genocide to see how some of our work is living on.

Grab a box of tissues and listen to this amazing audio story here: YWEP Still Works

Please support our staff, leadership and membership

YWEP logoDear Community,

After nearly 12 years of operating, Young Women’s Empowerment Project is going to dissolve our 501c3 in the fall/winter of 2013. We plan for our campaign work and syringe exchange to live on but we will not have paid staff, an office or a dedicated phone line. We will have a website for at least 2 years.

YWEP will be releasing a much longer statement about why and how we came to this decision. For now, we would like our community to know that:

*We came to this decision as a group using our consensus process and after a year of struggle.

*We explored and tried multiple restructuring options before making this decision and got expert guidance from many allies and consultants.

*We came to this consensus because we want to end when it is a choice for us—not when we run out of money (we are fiscally sound) or we are threatened by law enforcement or others (more on this point in a future statement).

*We don’t want to end in crisis, so we are ending in the middle of our operating year so we can transfer our leadership to the work they are planning on entering, and our programs to other organizations. 

*Our work will live on
-Our campaign called Street Youth Rise Up will be led by our Chicago Youth Task Force with support from Dominique McKinney
-Our weekly meeting for youth in the sex trade will be housed at the Broadway Youth Center and led by our current staff
-Our Syringe Exchange called Sexxy will also have a home in Chicago and continue to be run by YWEP leaders.

*Our staff members will move to new challenges (like attending college, working with animals, or starting and developing businesses).

Please help us financially support our staff by giving to our grassroots fund here!

We started and continued to build YWEP because we know that young people in the sex trade deserve a spot at the table where decisions are made about our lives. That’s still true.

As we’ve told people about this, lots of you have shared our grief at the loss of such revolutionary and incomparable work.  It’s hard to officially end something that is so special and important.

If you’ve met any of the people that work for YWEP, you know that they are astonishingly talented people.  Work with us to help them to move on to new things in a way that reflects the incredible power and meaning of what they’ve accomplished.

We will hold a gathering during the weekend of August 10th 2013 in Chicago that will be open to the community for healing, documentation and ceremony, to honor the last decade of work and to launch the future work of our employees and membership.

For more information about how to support us please see our document called What YWEP needs from Allies and Talking Points

Thank you for your support and dedication to YWEP and our constituency.

In solidarity,
Young Women’s Empowerment Project Leadership and Board