YWCA Lancaster Launches new Center for Racial and Gender Equity

Lancaster, Pa. (October 6, 2020) – YWCA Lancaster announces the launch of the Center for Racial and Gender Equity (CRGE).  The Center will engage in education and advocacy to build community around the YWCA’s core mission to eliminate racism and empower women.

The CRGE was conceived during the pandemic in the days following the public protests against the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and is the vision of the recently appointed CEO of YWCA Lancaster, Stacie Blake. “Our historic building opened during a pandemic in 1918.  We are as determined as those early women leaders to meet our community’s needs as they evolve.  Our goal is clear and there is no better time for YWCA Lancaster to step up and walk on a path to racial and gender equity.”

The Center will be headquartered at 110 N. Lime Street and directed by Jasmyne King, a native Lancastrian and graduate of Millersville University. With a background in communications and public relations she has devoted her work to fighting for social justice. Ms. King was most recently the director of YWonderful Kids at Penn Manor. “The Center motto is Listen, Learn and Lead and I am thrilled to step into the role of director of the Center for Racial and Gender Equity.  We will establish a trusted Center that will challenge the structural racial and gender barriers to equity.”

The Center for Racial and Gender Equity will focus on three functional areas; community engagement,  building a Lancaster community that promotes equity and inclusion in multiple ways; training and education, pairing staff with a diverse, community–based team of trainers who are passionate about our mission and allow participants to find new meaning and shift paradigms to create an inclusive community; and research and advocacy, learning and leading as advocates for an equitable community.

Willow Valley Communities will serve as a founding sponsor of community engagement for the Center. With this support, YWCA Lancaster is able to expand community engagement opportunities linked to mission. Willow Valley Communities’ sponsorship aligns with its history of support for Lancaster County. According to John G. Swanson, Chief Executive Officer of Willow Valley Living, the management company for Willow Valley Communities, “Our involvement with the YWCA, in particular this new Center, is a natural extension of our longstanding commitment to help build a stronger Lancaster through community outreach.”

The annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, with readings and a free book for every child attending, provided by Willow Valley Communities, reached 300 children earlier this year.  Looking forward, a new menu of monthly offerings includes our signature program, the Racial Equity Institute delivered each month at varying times; virtual conversations with the Dorothy Height Book Club are each 3rd Thursday and our Community Now panel discussions focus on diverse, thought-provoking writers, speakers, community leaders and subjects.

Next year we will host the 23rd annual Race Against Racism with new additions that highlight the mission and work needed in Lancaster. Our Women of Achievement Awards Luncheon honors women in our community and exemplify the mission of YWCA Lancaster.  These two fundraisers support our mission work and provide sponsorship opportunities for area businesses.

About YWCA Lancaster

YWCA Lancaster is dedicated to the elimination of racism, the empowerment of women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.  Since 1889 we have served children and adults in the community through a variety of programs.  Current offerings include the Racial Equity Institute, Dorothy Height Book Club and Community Now dialogues  on current topics; Kepler Hall residence, home to fifty women, men and children; YWonderful Kids providing child enrichment for ages six weeks to five years and before/after school care in a number of settings; Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center with a 24 hour hotline and no-cost professional counseling for survivors of sexual assault and their significant others.