Advocacy, Research, Training

DC Family Economic Security Initiative

WOW’s home, Washington, DC, is a unique city with distinct charms and challenges. Our nation’s capital has extremely high unemployment rates, particularly in Wards 7 and 8, which have seen rates of triple the national average. DC also has very low graduation rates and great demand for job training and placement services. WOW has worked in the District for nearly 50 years to decrease illiteracy, joblessness and poverty. Our current DC Family Economic Security Initiative (DC FESI) advocates for policies, conducts research and provides training to help teens, families and seniors achieve economic security across the lifespan. The DC FESI addresses the economic and social justice issues that prevent residents from escaping poverty and obtaining self-sufficiency or security through a number of projects and initiatives.



WOW addresses local workers and families’ workforce development and basic human needs. WOW works with community stakeholders and local groups throughout the DC Metro Area, including the DC Jobs Council, the Ward 8 Workforce Development Council  and the Fair Budget Coalition to advocate on issues such as equal pay for women, living wages, sick days for tipped workers, affordable housing, job training and education, childcare and more.


DC Metro Area Self-Sufficiency Calculator (DCMASSC)

The DCMASSC is a free online career and financial counseling tool for the Washington, DC metropolitan area. It is designed to benefit individual users and counselors who want to learn more about the real cost of living in the area; research careers, education and training; learn about housing, childcare, health care and other public assistance programs and/or determine their or someone else’s public assistance eligibility. The DCMASSC can also benchmark and track registered users’ incomes, expenses and family changes over time.


DC Women’s Agenda (DCWA)

Since 2003, WOW has chaired the DC Women’s Agenda, a broad-based coalition promoting women and girls’ equality, advancement, safety and well-being through advocacy, education and community input. The DCWA addresses key issues, including childcare, domestic violence, economic security, housing and homelessness, reproductive health, women and budget fairness and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). DCWA is a primary source of information to the DC Administration and City Council on the impact that their programs and policies have had or will have on women and girls. It has also sponsored advocacy trainings for low-income women and girls, and organizations that conduct advocacy or provide testimony during the DC budget process.


Connections to Careers for Adults, Connections to Careers for Teens

There is often a disconnect between the vague plans jobseekers have for their future employment and the reality of how much income they will need to support themselves and their families. Without adequate knowledge of how much it costs to support a family and how much specific jobs pay, it is difficult for individuals to plan for the education and training they need to be self-sufficient. This is especially true for low-income individuals who may not be exposed to a wide variety of careers, particularly those with “ladders” leading to high wages and good benefits.

WOW provides a unique experience through its Connections to Careers curriculum. This six-part career and financial literacy workshop helps participants determine their economic security needs, identify and understand career paths of interest, and develop individual career plans that will maximize their independence, economic security and asset development. Connections to Careers helps job seekers overcome barriers to employment and economic security through an interactive curriculum emphasizing realistic career planning based on concrete local cost data.

WOW’s Connections to Careers addresses the issue of economic security across generations with the goal of ensuring that at each stage of a person’s life, she or he is able to not only make ends meet, but develop basic assets that enhance and protect future security. WOW provides age- and experience-specific versions of Connections to Careers for adults, teens, returning citizens/ex-offenders and older workers.


Washington Area Women in the Trades (WAWIT)

WAWIT was created as a partnership program of the YWCA of the National Capital Area (YWCA/NCA), WOW and the Community Services Agency of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO (CSA), to prepare unemployed or underemployed women to work in high-wage construction jobs. WAWIT’s training program provides intensive pre-vocational, pre-apprenticeship training for high-wage jobs in construction trades. The goal of the six-week comprehensive programming and follow-up support is to provide interested local women with an intensive, relatively short pre-employment training program that equips them with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to acquire, maintain and advance in high-wage jobs.

The WAWIT interactive curriculum includes:

  • Essential construction skills: construction math, blueprint reading, certifications in OSHA 10 Safety and First Aid-CPR, orientation to the industry, and tool identification and use
  • LEED 101 online certification in green building basics
  • Road Flagging certification
  • Hands-on skills training at local union apprenticeship schools
  • Employability-job readiness training
  • Gender-focused topics on women in construction
  • Individual mentoring and support groups for women
  • Case management services
  • Job placement and retention assistance

Key Resources

See WOW reports, briefs and other resources.  Read about WOW reports and other research in the news.


Wider Opportunities for Women
1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 930 Washington, DC 20036
202-464-1596 | Fax: 202-464-1660 | Email:

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