The Young Women's Leadership Program is a component of SRBWI which seeks to empower women of all ages in impoverished counties in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi to improve their own and their communities' economic and social well being.

Approximately 85 young women and their mentors attend the five-day Unita Blackwell Young Women's Leadership Institute on the campus of Tougaloo College — a historically Black College near Jackson, Mississippi. The Institute — named for the first African American female mayor in Mississippi — takes place each year in June. Participants are young women in grades 8-12 who are from the 77 distressed counties targeted by SRBWI.

The young women who attend are able to experience college life by staying in dorms and eating in campus dining halls. They also:

  • take part in challenging activities designed to nurture leadership abilities;
  • are introduced to SRBWI's human rights agenda;
  • attend interactive workshops in marketable skills;
  • learn about the rich contributions of Southern rural Black women to human rights; and
  • discuss problems of African American teenaged girls.

Highlights of past Institutes include workshops and forums on:

  • fashion design;
  • jewelry making;
  • photography;
  • health and wellness; and
  • how hip hop and media images impact young women's self-image.

In addition, attendees are able to participate in New Visions, a digital filmmaking mentor/apprentice program, which allows mentors and apprentices to engage in highly focused, hands-on training in video production. And at night attendees are able to participate in the cultural experience of the Institute.

SRBWI employs youth organizers in the three states to continue working with the youth who attended the Institute or applied but weren’t chosen because of lack of space. Each state provides ongoing activities that involve Institute participants in regional and state advisory committees, the Mayor’s Commissions on Human Rights and community service projects. They also visit college campuses and some participate in trainings at CDF Haley Farm in Tennessee.