YWCA Strive

Define your career goals and gain the confidence to seek higher-paying jobs or negotiate higher wages with YWCA Strive, a free professional development program for individuals who struggle to secure or retain living-wage employment.

Applications are currently being taken for the January 2021 cohort, which is scheduled for January 4 through July 2, 2021.

Future cohorts are scheduled May 10 through November 5, 2021, and September 13, 2021, through March 11, 2022

Professional and Employability Skills

With YW Strive, you’ll learn and practice skills desired by local employers or that you can use to start your own business.

Topics include:

  • Digital Skills for the Workplace
  • Essential Skills (aka Soft Skills)
  • Entrepreneurship and Business Skills
  • Financial Independence
  • Critical Thinking
  • Leadership Skills
  • Personal Empowerment
  • Team Work and Collaboration
  • Career Coaching
  • Presentation Skills
  • Balancing Personal and Professional Obligations
  • Opportunities for Education and Career Advancement

Hands-On Approach

Do you want to learn new skills to improve your employment opportunities and expand your income earning potential? YW Strive offers hands-on classes and assignments that will help you develop and practice your skills in a collaborative, supportive environment.

You’ll take the skills you learn in class and work one-on-one with a career coach to define your career path, identify solutions to any barriers, and receive individualized feedback and support on your progress and skills development.


Strive Professional Certificate and Other Benefits

You’ll attend 3-hour classes and workshops twice per week for six months with a group of 15 other participants and certified facilitators to develop the professional habits and skills needed to succeed. Upon completion of all requirements, you’ll receive your Strive Professional Certificate and you’ll have an updated resume, stronger interview skills, and the knowledge and ability to launch your career. You’ll also learn about local resources available for starting your own business and other opportunities for education and career advancement.

YW Strive facilitators are also always working to identify and share local employment opportunities with participants. Our facilitators are making connections with local employers and educating them on the value of the Strive Professional Certificate and what our program graduates can bring to their workplace.


  • Must live in McLean County
  • Must be 18+ years old
  • Must have basic English literacy and math skills
  • Must show desire and ability to complete the full program

Preferred enrollment opportunities for women, people of color, those who have not completed a bachelor’s degree, and those who receive a referral through a partner agency.

For questions, please contact Candice Byrd, (309) 319-4318.


Local Employer or Agency Partnerships

Are you a local employer or nonprofit agency and want to partner with YW Strive? Contact Kate Brunk, (309) 454-1451, for more information.


YWCA Strive is partially funded by a Community Action Grant from AAUW and YWCA USA.


YW Strive is committed to promoting equity and providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our community, including clients, staff, volunteers, community partners, and vendors. We are committed to helping individuals of all races, ethnicities, national origins, genders, sexual orientations, incarceration backgrounds, religions, ages, abilities, and other diversities succeed through our programming and services. We are committed to promoting equity throughout our operations, including the provision of services, staffing decisions, and selection of volunteers and vendors.