Empower Yolo

Reviewed in 2022 by the Sacramento Region Community Foundation

$50,610 raised by 178 donors

100% complete

$45,000 Goal

Founded in 1977, as the Yolo County Sexual Assault Center, Empower Yolo was started by five women from Davis, CA who identified a need and began providing crisis intervention services out of an apartment. Soon thereafter, domestic violence services were added, and the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center became Yolo County's sole provider of specialized services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. In 1980, the Harper House, the county's first shelter for battered women and children, was opened. In November of 1999, Empower Yolo's current confidential shelter facility -- the 35-bed Wallace and Vanucci shelter, opened to residents in place of Harper House. In February 2014, in an effort to more effectively encompass our vast programs and services, as well as highlight the connection between client, organization and community, the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center became Empower Yolo, Providing Hope. Ending Violence.

On January 1, 2016, Empower Yolo and Yolo Center for Families merged to become one agency under the name Empower Yolo. The merger allows Empower Yolo to better serve clients in Yolo County offering more comprehensive services. Empower Yolo's free and confidential services include: 24/7 Crisis Hotline, Residential Services (including emergency confidential shelter for individuals escaping domestic violence, sexual assault or human trafficking; transitional and rapid rehousing; and the KE shelter which homes crime victims); Legal Advocacy (including restraining order clinics; court accompaniment & advocacy; limited DACA immigration assistance); Counseling (including individual, family, child, empowerment program, support groups, and Alternatives to Violence program); Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Response Teams; Prevention Education and Outreach (including presentations, community fairs/tabling, professional trainings throughout Yolo County, and Teen Education presentations and groups in local high schools); Family Resource Centers (in Davis, Woodland and Knights Landing); Youth Services (including: Play School Experience, Child Abuse Treatment Program, Response to Human Trafficking of commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC), children's health insurance enrollment, and After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) after school program); Health Education (including health insurance and CAL Fresh enrollment programs, peer health educators, promotoras, and Knights Landing Medical Clinic); Homeless Prevention & Rapid Re-housing Program; and Economic Self Sufficiency (including financial literacy classes, and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program); women's support group.

Empower Yolo's shelter is pet friendly. Often, people will not leave an abusive situation if they know they will have to leave a beloved pet behind. Empower Yolo expanded in 2019 to provide temporary emergency shelter, resources, supplies, and emotional support to survivors and their pets in crisis. We have been able to reach even more survivors with these expanded services.

In December 2020 our shelter kitchen remodel project was finally completed. The staff and clients love the new kitchen as it dramatically improves our ability to support individuals and families who come to us at the most difficult times of their lives.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Empower Yolo has been unwavering in providing services to victims of abuse and vulnerable families throughout Yolo County. Empower Yolo has remained extremely busy with an increase in services in almost every department. Domestic violence rates were higher because shelter in place and quarantine at home was not safe for victims of abuse. The board of directors has supported the agency throughout this challenging time, and staff members have been working nonstop, in all roles necessary to support clients. When many agencies closed Empower Yolo remained open to support survivors of abuse and families in need. 

Over the past two years, Empower Yolo has seen an increase in need for basic necessities such as food, clothing, and help with rent, utilities, and childcare. We’ve also seen an increase in need in several program areas including food distribution, counseling services, legal services, and other services for survivors of abuse, vulnerable families, homeless and immigrant clients. 

This year Empower Yolo celebrates its 45th anniversary – providing services to survivors and families in need for 45 years in Yolo County. Our anniversary theme will be "Welcome Home" which will focus on our safe house that we want to feel like home and remind supporters of our housing programs. Our goal through the end of the year is to move 45 victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or human trafficking into permanent housing during our 45th year. Support Empower Yolo this year and donate $45 - $4,500 and help us continue in our mission of promoting safe, healthy, and resilient communities.


Empower Yolo's mission is to promote safe, healthy, and resilient communities through community outreach and educational programs about available resources to promote health, stability, and self-sufficiency for individuals and families.


$5,000 for client assistance funds for clients moving out of the shelter who need help with deposits.

Empower Yolo recently revamped its housing department to meet the increase in need for housing services. Empower Yolo’s Housing Team is focused on program collaboration and wrap-around housing advocacy for Yolo County residents fleeing domestic violence, experiencing homelessness, and those affected by COVID-19. Housing advocates are available 6 days a week to provide case management and emotional support during the process of assisting clients in finding and maintaining permanent housing. Services include: financial literacy and budget assistance, direct financial support for application fees, rent and security deposit assistance, advocacy and accompaniment for securing new rentals, move-in assistance, and household goods. Empower Yolo's Housing Team also provides application assistance for clients and landlords eligible to apply for Housing is Key, the California COVID-19 Rent Relief program.

$15,000 for our Human Trafficking Program.

After drug trafficking, human trafficking is the world's second most profitable criminal enterprise and in California, there is an increasing need to provide more assistance and care for the victims and survivors of these crimes. The victims of human trafficking are often young girls and women. Yolo County is not immune to issues of labor and sex trafficking. Local law enforcement agencies, advocates, prosecutors, social workers, probation officers, mental health providers, and healthcare professionals continue to organize and collaborate in an effort to raise awareness, provide services to survivors and prosecute offenders.

Empower Yolo has advocates on call to respond to a human trafficking investigation and offer support to a victim whether it be at a local hospital, law enforcement agency, forensic medical exam, CPS office, or forensic interview.

Empower Yolo provides services for survivors of human trafficking including safe shelter. There's also a designated human trafficking advocate who works with survivors providing support, information, resources, and advocacy.

In 2021, Empower Yolo advocates provided services to 21 human trafficking clients. We provided 282 services, and 1 emergency stay. Services included: CALVCB application assistance to claim victim compensation, criminal hearing accompaniment, transportation assistance, interpreter services, peer counseling, and support group sessions. Clients received support with protection orders, family law, and criminal law, as well as basic needs like clothing, hygiene items, housing support, and food assistance.

$10,000 in Teen Prevention Education funding.

Empower Yolo's After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) program partners with schools and communities to provide academic support and safe, constructive alternatives for high school students. More than just an after-school program, the Woodland ASSETs team creates genuine connections with high school youth and families and provides unique opportunities for the development of life and leadership skills. We also provide family literacy services to the parents of our high school students.

The ASSETs team is working hard to support students and keep them engaged through the enduring pandemic. Students continue to face a number of challenges this year; ASSETs programs offer multiple options to engage with students and ensure their awareness of the resources available to them.

Prevention education efforts help raise awareness about teen dating violence and promote healthy relationships. Dating violence is more common than people think, and girls are particularly vulnerable to experiencing violence in their relationships. Prevention education is key in raising awareness and is important to incorporate into secondary school curriculum. Prevention education empowers youths to develop awareness, skills, and strategies for developing and maintaining healthy relationships. It guides youths through the process of understanding the root causes of violence and provides alternatives to harmful behaviors. Prevention education is important in a school setting because it contributes to youths' healthy social and emotional development by supporting self-awareness, relationship skills, self-management, responsible decision-making, and social awareness.

The ASSETs team continues to provide prevention education at Woodland High School. The prevention education curriculum consists of topics on how teens can have safe and healthy relationships as well as identifying unsafe/unhealthy relationships. Prevention education efforts can help reduce the possibilities of teenagers facing violence in their personal relationships and knowing their resources if they ever need help dealing with an unhealthy relationship.

Empower Yolo's prevention education programs are largely unfunded. Support for this program would help expand prevention education efforts for youths in the ASSETs program and in Yolo County.

$15,000 for Community Resource Centers in Knights Landing, Woodland, and Davis.

Empower Yolo manages a network of resource centers that provide families with access to a range of programs, services, and information to address the many challenges they face today. The resource center model provides an environment where our staff partners with families to identify their needs, address and resolve issues, and improve lives. This integrated and holistic approach helps decrease barriers that prevent families from accessing important services and programs, by providing safe and accessible resource centers in the surrounding community.

Our resource center programs and services include women's support groups, child development programs, parent support, benefits enrollment, financial coaching, food distribution, health education, case management, and counseling. We have services that specifically address sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. We also offer a rapid re-housing program for families that are homeless and eviction prevention programs that keep families from becoming homeless in the first place.

One of the most important aspects of our resource centers that cannot be overlooked is the sense of community and social connections they provide. The centers are a place where individuals can give and receive information and aid and find emotional support; they create a sense of belonging. Just knowing that support is available even if not needed or used, gives families a sense that they have someone to turn to in a time of need.

One example is the Women's Groups, which serve as a community within a community. The Woodland Women's Group has been meeting for 16 years, the one in Knights Landing for 12 years and in Davis for 7 years. We offer sewing classes, Club de Lectura (Spanish Literature Club), and other programs requested by our clients and communities. Although the global pandemic forced us to move some of these programs online, the network created by these clients continues.

In Davis, vulnerable community members continue to be supported at a high rate during the pandemic and can find assistance in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. Advocates keep in close contact with over 40 Mandarin-speaking clients, many of whom are seniors who are alone or isolated, to help share information about services and provide needed support.

Our resource center in Knights Landing is the only safety net for families residing in the area and it needs the most support at this time. We offer programming onsite on a daily basis, including food distribution, benefits enrollment, and support groups. This site has also provided COVID testing and provides information and resources to farmworkers and harder-to-reach populations.

Even though we offer similar services in Woodland, those services aren't really accessible to families in Knights Landing, especially if they lack transportation. In a car, the drive from Knights Landing to Woodland takes 20 minutes, but the bus ride from Knights Landing to the Health and Human Services (HHSA) office takes an hour and a half. In order to give our clients meaningful access to both county and community-based services, we need consistent staff members who know the community.

$15,000 for "Promotoras for Active Living" (PAL) project, which trains lay community members to deliver health education, family support to family, friends, and other community members and to connect them to available health and social services in Yolo County.

Organization Data


Organization name

Empower Yolo

Tax id (EIN)


Mission Category

Human Services

Operating Budget

$1,000,001-$5 million

Organization Need

Funding: Unrestricted

Demographics Served

Low-income individuals/families, Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx, AAPI, BIPOC, Immigrants & refugees, Individuals with disabilities, LGBTQ+, Youth & Children, Animals


175 Walnut Street
Woodland, CA 95695

Service areas 0

Yolo County, CA, US





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