The Women's Foundation of California | Apply for the Women's Policy Institute State Class of 2020

Apply for the WPI-State Class of 2020

Photo of Economic Justice Team, 2018-19 Cohort
Photo of Economic Justice Team, 2018-19 Cohort

WPI-State is a policy advocacy and leadership training fellowship for advocates and activists who work in non-profit organizations. We accept applications from cisgender and transgender women, genderqueer and non-binary people, and transgender men who want to build their skills, on behalf of their organizations, to influence public policymaking at the state level.*

Each year the Women’s Foundation of California chooses specific focus areas aimed to achieve gender, racial, and economic justice for communities throughout our state. This year WPI plans to receive applications in the following five issue areas:criminal justice reform; economic security; community health; reproductive health, rights, and justice and; trauma services and prevention.

Please carefully read the application instructions for detailed information on issue areas, criteria, training dates, and how to apply.

* The term ‘cisgender’ describes someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth. The term ‘transgender’ describes someone whose gender identity is different from the one they were assigned at birth.

Who We Are 

Widely recognized as one of the most successful policy advocacy training programs in the U.S., the Women Policy’s Institute-State (WPI-State) fellowship was launched by the Women’s Foundation of California (WFC) in 2003. The courageous efforts of our fellows have contributed to the passage of 35 new state laws, and even more state and local policy has been created and impacted by our alumni.

Over the last 15 years, we’ve trained more than 500 grassroots leaders—community organizers, lawyers, educators, healthcare professionals, direct service providers, executive directors, program managers, and public officials—in public policy advocacy at the state and local levels. Collectively, they constitute one of the most powerful voices fighting on behalf of communities of color, immigrant communities, queer communities, and low-income communities in our state.

The vast majority of our alumni describe an increase in their policy advocacy work following their graduation from the WPI, and 92% of these leaders attribute that increase to their participation in the program. Alumni often describe WPI as “transformative” and the “best decision” of their careers.

What You Will Learn and Do 

WPI-State is an experiential training fellowship. Over the course of a year, our teams will learn about the policy process by researching, writing, and lobbying for a state legislative bill of their choosing while receiving support and guidance from a mentor who is an expert in public policy work.

By participating in the WPI-State program, our fellows:

  • Develop legislative and administrative policy advocacy skills;
  • Learn how to conduct policy research using an intersectional lens and how to develop policy using a gender, racial, and economic justice framework;
  • Gain knowledge and information about California’s policy landscape, including current legislative and administrative policy processes;
  • Overcome perceived barriers and increase their confidence in participating in the policy process as it is today;
  • Develop the relationships necessary to do coalition work that advances public policy;
  • Produce state policy that reflects the needs of California’s cisgender and transgender women, non-binary and genderqueer people, transgender men, and their families and communities;
  • Increase their participation in state policy formation and implementation;
  • Build their communities’ capacity to use the policy process to address problems;
  • Strengthen their relationships to and collaboration with other social justice organizations and movements in California;
  • Create a peer learning environment among state-level advocates;
  • Join a network of more than 500 community and nonprofit leaders who have already graduated from WPI-State and WPI-Local and are currently working in public policy at the local and state levels.

Our social justice framework focuses on the structural causes of inequities embedded in public institutions such as government. Although WPI was developed in response to these structural inequities, and while we encourage each cohort to critique institutionalized oppression, the program’s primary objective is to train participants to create progressive policy changes within the current legislative system. Thus, program participants are enacting policies that make California a more just and equitable place today and are encouraged to work with their communities and organizations toward making our state’s legislative process more open and accessible to all community members tomorrow.

Important Dates

Application Release: Thursday, June 13, 2019

Online Application Due: Thursday, July 18, 2019, noon 5 PM PST

Application Status Notification: No later than August 13, 2019

Informational Calls: Click the links below to sign up for one of our informational webinars.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Foundation does not accept phone calls about the application. Many questions can be answered by thoroughly reading the application instructions PDF or the FAQ.   

If you have questions after reading the instructions and FAQ, email

Begin the Application

Applicants are required to read the application instructions PDF.  Once reviewed, an applicant can begin an application in the online portal.