Women Encouraging Empowerment (WEE) strives to educate, advocate, protect, and advance the rights of low-income immigrant and refugee women and their families through organizing, leadership development, and service delivery.
WEE is a recipient of our 2023 Community Impact Grant. We had a chat with the WEE team about the immigrant women who founded the organization and how they’re breaking down barriers to success for all in their community.
What led you to create this organization or
take this leadership role? Can you tell us more about your connection to the work and the specific need you saw?
Women Encouraging Empowerment (WEE) was founded in 2010 by a group of immigrant women who recognized and responded to an unmet community need. Revere — a community with a large population of immigrants — lacked culturally and linguistically responsive support for immigrants, and most notably, there were no organizations led by immigrants to support other immigrants. Hundreds of immigrant families in Revere with a wealth of skills and a desire to contribute to their communities faced financial, linguistic, and cultural barriers to success.
Since its founding, WEE has filled this critical gap in support for immigrant families by offering financial literacy and job training courses, English learning opportunities, and other forms of advocacy grounded in the empowerment of local immigrant families.
How is WEE working to foster greater opportunity for women, girls, and gender-expansive folks in the communities you serve?
WEE has the privilege of offering local students, immigrants, and even its own employees with a range of opportunities to overcome common barriers to success. Because the language barrier presents a primary barrier to community involvement and financial stability for many newcomers, WEE hosts two levels of English classes all throughout the year. WEE’s physical space unlocks countless other opportunities for immigrant women and families every day; the space transforms from a classroom to a resource distribution center to a support group for local immigrant women depending on the self-identified and ever-changing needs of the community. Regardless of who walks through WEE’s doors or the reason for their visit, the organization aims to thoughtfully listen, instill confidence, and guide them to access the resources and support that they deserve.
What’s one thing people might not know about your organization?
Whether by word of mouth or by way of formal referral, WEE is often the first point of contact for immigrant women who are in search of resources and support. Over the last 13 years, WEE has established itself as a trusted community resource and source of reliable, multilingual information for local immigrant women.
WEE is available for all immigrant women and families, offering comprehensive support that goes far beyond offering English classes. At the same time, WEE advocates for system-level change to positively impact the lives of and opportunities for local immigrant families.
What’s next for you? What project or goal is WEE working on right now?
In addition to continuing its ongoing courses and advocacy, WEE is excited to formalize its Women’s Circles for local immigrant women. There are few opportunities for immigrant women to safely experience and express joy. They often work outside the home in front-line jobs, manage the household responsibilities, and care for children, leaving little time for self-care. WEE’s Women Circles offer a space for immigrant women to eat, dance, laugh, learn, bond, and momentarily relieve their burdens. Through these Women’s Circles, immigrant women learn about topics ranging from navigating the American education system to strategies for healthy living, all with an emphasis on encouraging participants to live the lives they deserve.
What does liberation look like to you?
WEE works to advance a vision of social justice, gender equality, and collective empowerment for immigrant women. Access to reliable and multilingual information is critical to liberation as it allows immigrant women to advocate for themselves, their families, and their community. WEE also uplifts self-care as liberation. For immigrant women who carry so many responsibilities and often experience isolation, prioritizing mental health, personal care, and self-compassion can be radical acts of self-love and resistance.