Apply NowMore than 2,400 undergraduate women, graduate women and middle school girls from diverse socioeconomic, racial and academic backgrounds have actively participated in YWLP.

The Young Women Leaders Program is an innovative mentoring program founded by the Women’s Center and the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia in 1997. It is designed to support and enhance the sense of competence, connection and autonomy of a diverse group of college women and middle school girls by promoting women’s and girls’ leadership abilities.

The YWLP curriculum was developed and based on research in interdisciplinary areas by faculty members and graduate students from the Curry School of Education, which is applied to YWLP operations and outreach at the Women’s Center. Interactive activities focus on issues related to girls’ sense of self, scholastic achievement, body image, friendship and healthy decision-making.

YWLP group photo 1

Effective dissemination of the YWLP curriculum has led to new programs at nine additional colleges and universities across the U.S. and in other countries such as Mozambique, Cameroon and Nicaragua.



YWLP actively builds leadership skills through:

  • Group Discussion: In weekly after school meetings, Big and Little Sister pairs gather for group discussions and fun interactive activities. Group discussions center on girls’ experience and leadership in all realms of life: academic, relational and future personal and career goals.
  • Pair Relationships: Big and Little Sister pairs foster competence, connection and autonomy by spending time together working on homework, attending shows, playing sports, cooking together or participating in other community activities.
  • Civic Engagement: Big and Little Sisters participate in community engagement projects, such as food bank drives, awareness walks and school legacy projects, all within our local Charlottesville community.
  • Enrichment Activities: We encourage our students to become global citizens by engaging them in conversations about culture and community around the world, partnering with international Sister Sites in Cameroon and Nicaragua. Girls in 8th grade also participate in YWLP enrichment curriculum modules, Moves (active and healthy decision-making) and Technology (STEM related activities and career discussions).

YWLP group photo

“My time in the program truly helped me foster a sense of self, independence and confidence in a supportive and open environment that has been instrumental in my current career. While I may not always know how to do something, I do not fear taking the risk to try, thanks to YWLP. You learn to communicate and build relationships with […] so many different types of people when you are involved in the program, and to do so with an open mind and heart, which is a skill that is irreplaceable in my career and life today.”

~ Hannah Lambert, former YWLP Big Sister, Facilitator and Program Coordinator in Panama

YWLP Staff

YWLP is directed by Edith ‘Winx’ Lawrence, Ph.D., professor and clinical psychologist at the Curry School of Education. Contact Dr. Lawrence at

For general inquiries, please contact YWLP Assistant Director Melissa Levy  at and/or YWLP Mentoring Coordinator Sarah Tucker Jenkins at

YWLP interns

These students are: organized, patient with a positive outlook, flexible with an ability to adapt to change, creative and well-informed, as well as those who are familiar with YWLP as a Big Sister and/or facilitator. Please note: This internship is for students interested in supporting mentoring programs, rather than being the mentor.

Please visit the official YWLP website for more information.