YWCA begins awareness campaign to clarify its work and mission

Billy Kobin, Reporter

YWCA Evanston/North Shore launched an awareness campaign this week to reaffirm the organization’s social justice focus.

Karen Singer, president and CEO of YWCA Evanston/North Shore, said the effort aims to reintroduce YWCA’s goals to the public and highlight how the YWCA “On a Mission” campaign will help empower women and combat racism on both a local and national scale.

“We’re on a mission to improve the lives of women and girls in our communities,” Singer said. “We’re on a mission to achieve racial equity, so it’s a very activist-oriented kind of way of describing our work and our impact.”

Singer said the campaign promotes the continuing mission of the YWCA and its focus on the organization’s three major areas of outreach work: racial justice and civil rights, empowerment and economic advancement of women and girls, and health and safety of women and girls.

As part of the effort, Singer said YWCA Evanston/North Shore, 1215 Church St., along with YWCA USA, is rolling out a new format to the organization’s look, brand and the way the organization talks about its work.

Communications director Julie McBratney said YWCA Evanston/North Shore has a new banner outside its building on the corner of Ridge Avenue and Church Street to help advertise the mission. YWCA staff has also spread awareness through social media, she said.

“A lot of people are confused about what we do, so we’re trying to clarify what we do and put our stake in the ground as a social justice organization,” McBratney said.

YWCA originally stood for Young Women’s Christian Association, but the letters no longer stand for anything to avoid excluding other faith-based communities. Rather, the letters are meant to represent the social justice movement the YWCA aims to perpetuate, said Nancy Anderson, communications strategist for YWCA Evanston/North Shore.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore serves more than 10,000 people annually in more than 15 communities in northern Cook County, according to a news release. The organization’s work in empowering women began in the 1930s, when it provided housing to young women who had arrived to the area from rural areas.

Singer said the new awareness campaign hopes to promote the continuous work the YWCA has done to help women and combat racism.

“It’s not that we’re changing our work,” she said. “Our work continues just as it has in the community since the 1930s. It’s just that we are hoping to talk about our work in a much more clear and impactful way.”

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