Women's Policy Institute

Women's Policy Institute

Much more effective than a single lobby group, the Women’s Policy Institute amplifies the voices of many women who are leading grassroots social justice work, training them on how legislation is made and connecting them to those in power.
Through our model of change, the leaders we support
are making and implementing laws. Through the Women's Policy Institute, a yearlong program of training retreats in Sacramento, we teach women activists and grassroots organizations how to successfully negotiate the labyrinth of Sacramento.
During the program, women work in teams to develop and implement specific policy advocacy projects of their choosing. Each team works with a mentor who is experienced in public policy work. Through the Women’s Policy Institute we connect these voices and organizations, and give them lasting knowledge. The Women’s Policy Institute has yielded tremendous success. In the first six years of the Institute, fellows contributed significantly to the passage of ten new laws across the areas of women’s health, safety and economic prosperity. And we’ve only just begun.

Women's Policy Institute Overview

Legislative Accomplishments
Announcing 2010-2011 Class
2009-2010 Year in Review  
WPI Replication Curriculum
Graduate Network

The Program 

Women’s Policy Institute works to:  
  • Increase the number of policies in California that reflect the needs and realities of low-income women and families;
  • Increase and support the leadership, advocacy and public policy knowledge of Women’s Policy Institute Fellows that can be applied to local, state and national issues;
  • Strengthen links between grassroots leaders and organizations with those who influence and make policy;
  • Encourage lasting relationships between grassroots women leaders across California; and
  • Increase the number of community-based women involved in the policy making process who understand and work for issues concerning women and girls.
The Women's Policy Institute is a year-long program that includes four three-to-four-day experiential training retreats in Sacramento. During the program, Institute fellows work in self-selected teams to develop and implement specific policy advocacy projects of their choosing.
Team projects provide practice on the policy advocacy skills taught during the retreats and require participants to exercise their personal resourcefulness. Each team works with a mentor who is experienced in public policy work. A core faculty of experts provides continuity throughout the program and additional faculty is brought in to teach on particular topics as needed.
Teleconferences, emails and an Intra-net support an informal network that helps keep team members connected between retreats and provides additional training.

Cindy MaranoCindy Marano was one of the architects of the Women's Policy Institute. She dedicated her life to improving the lives of people living in poverty. Public policy was her favorite vehicle for bringing good ideas into the public arena. She firmly believed that given the advantage of good mentoring, people closest to any problem are best suited to creating effective policy solutions.

In recognition of Cindy's lifelong commitment to achieving economic equity for women, the Cindy Marano Memorial Fund was established at the Women's Foundation of California to support immediate and strategic actions to influence policies that will improve the lives of low-income people, particularly women. It is designed to be a rapid response fund that can meet critical policy action needs quickly.

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