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CSSP Announces Recipients of the First Accelerating Change Award

WASHINGTON, D.C.—May 23, 2016—The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP, @CtrSocialPolicy) is excited to announce the five winners of our inaugural Accelerating Change Award. The awardees have each demonstrated a commitment to reaching and serving diverse populations of young women and girls of color who are involved or at high risk of involvement in public systems and creating opportunities for their well-being and success.

Accelerating Change AwardThe inaugural cohort for the Accelerating Change Award are:

  • ROCA, Inc. High Risk Young Mother’s Program, a Boston-based organization that targets underserved young women ages 16 to 24 who are either pregnant or single parents and connects them with individualized programming, educational opportunities, parenting classes and employment programming
  • PACE Center for Girls, a research-based nonresidential program model, headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., that features a balanced emphasis on academics and social services and a safe environment for middle and high-school-aged girls
  • Young Women’s Project, an organization in Washington, D.C., that guides youth, with a special focus on teen women and youth in the foster care system, through a process of personal transformation so they can become leaders in their peer groups, schools, families and communities
  • viBe Theater Experience, a New York City-based arts program that empowers underserved teenage girls to write and perform original theater, video and music about the real-life issues they face daily
  • My Life My Choice, a Boston organization that works to prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of adolescents through survivor-led programs that educate and empower youth to find their voice and create a positive life path

Young women and girls of color—especially those involved in public systems like child welfare and juvenile justice—face a unique and alarming trajectory that puts them at risk of poor outcomes in life. To spotlight organizations, programs and practices that interrupt that trajectory, CSSP celebrates these five awardees for their compelling and creative interventions in making a difference in young women and girls’ everyday lives.

“These organizations are changing the narrative about young women and girls of color,” said Tashira Halyard, CSSP senior associate and lead for our Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare. “Too many of our girls and young women of color are placed on a path toward negative outcomes like homelessness, unplanned pregnancies and criminal justice involvement after experiences with public systems that are meant to protect them and support them. Rather than perpetuating what is often an ‘abuse-to-prison pipeline,’ these organizations are lifting up and supporting our young women and girls of color as crucial to our nation’s future.”

Through this award and our Fight for Girls series, CSSP is leading a paradigm shift in the way public systems address the needs of girls and young women of color. To ensure race, ethnicity and gender and their intersections—and their involvement in public systems—do not reduce girls’ chances for productive and successful futures, public agencies must shift their focus on deficits and risks to recognizing and building on assets and aspirations.They must also shift policies and practices to recognize and address the trauma that girls have faced in their communities and through public system involvement. The Accelerating Change awardees are each pioneering work to counter the effects of structural racism and trauma to support young women’s well-being, and they offer models of promising practices to replicate.

“We are delighted to recognize these organizations for their innovation, perseverance and outstanding commitment to accelerate positive change and promising futures for women and girls of color nationally,” said Judith Meltzer, deputy director at CSSP. “They will fuel and power a network that drives the changes our nation must realize for young women and girls of color.”

In addition to national recognition, an honorarium to support their work and an opportunity to join a network of similar high-performing initiatives, CSSP’s Accelerating Change Award recipients will attend United State of Women Summit hosted by the White House next month in Washington, D.C. The summit will rally women and girls across the nation and abroad to discuss key gender equality issues, such as economic empowerment, educational opportunity, health and wellness, violence against women, entrepreneurship and innovation, leadership and civic engagement. In addition, throughout the year, CSSP will convene awardees to share their work, exchange ideas, and work together toward disseminating new ideas on supporting all young women and girls of color in public systems.




The Center for the Study of Social Policy is a national organization recognized for its leadership in shaping policy, reforming public systems and building the capacity of communities. We support elected officials, public administrators, families and neighborhood residents to take the actions they need. Our goal is to make sure children can learn, develop and thrive with the support of strong families, in safe and healthy communities. Visit us online at and join our conversations on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.


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