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eliminating racism empowering women YWCA greater pittsburgh

Center for Race and Gender Equity

Promoting Equity, Educating Individuals, Advocating for Change

image description2016 Stand Against Racism

YWCA Greater Pittsburgh’s Center for Race & Gender Equity (CRGE) promotes awareness of equality issues, educates individuals, and advocates for change in communities throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The Center supports and promotes the YW's national advocacy agenda and identifies legislative opportunities (federal, state and local) that advance YWCA’s focus areas of Eliminating Racism and Empowering Women.

Our work includes establishing partnerships with allies and coalitions; engaging grassroots networks; and hosting community forums, workshops, and trainings. 

The Center for Race and Gender Equity's (CRGE) efforts are supported by the work of community partners and the CRGE Community Advisory Committee.

Promoting Awareness 

The Center directs the planning and implementation of YWCA Greater Pittsburgh’s signature racial justice, inclusion, and equity events as well as educational programs that focus on disparities/barriers in criminal justice, gender equity, and other challenges. Programs and events include:

  • Stand Against Racism: This annual event raises awareness that racism still exists in our communities and cannot be ignored or tolerated. A nation-wide movement initiated by YWCA in 2008, Stand Against Racism attracts tens of thousands of participants through community partnerships with more than 60 YWCA Associations. To participate in our 2020 Stand Against Racism, please contact Mell Steven-Cosnek.
  • Week Without Violence: Since its launch in 1995, Week Without Violence has grown from a grassroots initiative to a global movement with women, men, and children from all fifty states and in more than twenty countries on six continents. This yearly campaign challenges and inspires people to bring to life the vision where all people are free to live with peace, respect, and opportunity. To get involved in the Week Without Violence or donate new and unopened toiletries year round to support local Pittsburgh women’s shelters and programs, contact Mell Steven-Cosnek.  
  • Racial Justice Awards: As part of the YW’s work to eliminate racism, this annual award ceremony promotes awareness of equality issues, educates individuals, and advocates for change in communities throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. The Racial Justice Awards are a yearly celebration of community members working towards creating a more equitable and just world. 
  • Naturalization Ceremonies: YWCA hosts and participates in bi-annual naturalization ceremonies for incoming American citizens in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security/USCIS. The history of the United States is a celebration of the integration and inclusion of diverse immigrants into the fabric of our nation. The YW is proud to sponsor two annual citizenship ceremonies, coinciding with the celebration of LGBTQIA Pride and Black History Months.
  • Voter Empowerment and Registration: YWCA is committed to educating eligible voters about registering to vote, protecting voting rights, and accessing accurate voter information. Activities include National Voter Registration Day advocacy, providing assistance updating and applying for voter registration, and explaining dates and requirements related to upcoming elections. Interested in hosting a voting table? Contact, Program Director Mell Steven-Cosnek

Learn more about PA Voter Registration or get registered here.

Education and Training 

Since 1996, YWCA Greater Pittsburgh has partnered with and provided training for public, private, and nonprofit organizations throughout the region. The YW’s CRGE serves as a community resource on issues of Racial Justice, Inclusion, and Equity. CRGE is available for focus groups, group facilitation, keynote addresses and conference presentations, and to develop and deliver training and technical programs for organizations, schools, and companies.


The Center for Race and Gender Equity works to serve members of the Greater Pittsburgh community by providing resources related to the issues of Racial Justice, Inclusion, and Equity. CRGE encourages individuals to become advocates by participating in YW sponsored events and utilizing CRGE resources to increase their individual understanding of diversity issues.

Advocating for Change
We focus our advocacy work on these public policy areas:

  • Racial Justice, Inclusion & Equity: Civil rights, voting rights; hate crimes: racial profiling, immigration reform; and race/gender disparities; and other areas of equity and inclusion.
  • Health & Safety: Violence against women; human trafficking; women’s health and reproductive justice; and other community violence.
  • Economic Empowerment & Education: Equal pay; minimum wage; increasing women’s income; early childhood education; job training/opportunities; and post secondary education.
Did you know?

According to the Center for Disease Control, African American women are over three times more likely to be murdered with a gun than white women.

Read more about YWCA's position on gun violence.

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