The generosity of others is at the core of the Y’s existence as a nonprofit. It is only through the support of our hundreds of thousands of volunteers and public and private donors that we are able to support and give back to the communities we engage.
To bring about meaningful change, individuals need ongoing encouragement and tools. We’re here day-in and day-out to provide the resources our communities need to address the most pressing social issues: child welfare, education, employment, housing and substance abuse. We work to make sure every child, family and community has what they need to achieve their best.
As a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y was created in response to social challenges and remains to this day a lifeline in communities around the world. The Y understands the challenges that keep individuals from reaching their full potential and responds with services and support which help people to be self-reliant, productive and connected to the community. Each Y responds to the unique issues influencing the community and provides support through services focused on critical areas, such as child welfare, community health, job training, environmental education, quality of life or family services. Below are a few examples of how the Y is providing support to millions of people nationwide.
Education and Employment Training
A key factor for individual and family stability is the ability to earn an income to support themselves and loved ones. Y programs such as adult literacy, GED preparation and job training are critical to helping people bridge skills gaps and start on a path towards employment and self-sufficiency.
Military Outreach Initiative
We understand that military families are under enormous strain. The Y proudly offers memberships and respite child care services to eligible military families and personnel to provide extra support during a time when loved ones are away from home. It’s our way of giving back to those who dedicate themselves to serving our country.
Deployment can be a stressful and uncertain time for our nation’s servicemen and women and their families. In partnership with the Armed Services YMCA and the Department of Defense, the Y is proud to offer memberships and respite child care services to eligible military families and personnel to give them extra support during this difficult period. It’s our way of giving back to those who dedicate themselves to serving our country.
Swimming and Water Safety
Young people in underserved communities often do not learn the critical water safety and swimming skills to keep them safe, which results in a disproportionate amount of deaths and injuries each year. The Y is working to address this important issue by offering learn-to-swim programs and raising awareness of the importance of water safety in urban communities nationwide.
At the Y, building a strong global community begins at home. Ys in the U.S. help young people develop cultural competencies, diverse populations connect to the community and individuals around the world gain access to life-changing resources and support. As an interconnected global network, the Y has the resources and solutions to build bridges and make our changing communities stronger—both at home and abroad.
Founded in 1844 in London, England, the Y has grown into one of the largest volunteer organizations in the world, serving more than 45 million people in 120 countries. Ys in the U.S. have played a key role in the growth and strength of the global organization and continue to partner with other Ys around the world to address critical social issues. Collectively, we use the knowledge and resources of our global network to help people reach their potential. From welcoming newcomers in the U.S. to working to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia, Ys have the expertise and commitment to strengthen communities and bring about positive change.
Founded in 1889, World Service raises awareness of and financial support for the powerful work the global Y is doing every day. World Service support helps Ys around the world deliver the life-changing programs that help people thrive and reach their full potential.
Often operating in difficult social and economic conditions, Ys empower people with the knowledge, life skills, values and resources to create a better future for themselves and their families. Learn more about or donate to World Service.
One of the most important aspects of building a global community is giving young people and adults opportunities to understand and celebrate diversity. The Y helps people to develop cultural competencies and the key skills to collaborate with their peers around the world. From global curricula in camping and afterschool programs to international service-learning opportunities and partnerships, the Y gives people the knowledge, experience and confidence to successfully interact in our increasingly globalized society.
The Y was created by young people trying to navigate their way in a new city — far from family, friends and a familiar way of life. This premise has extended throughout our history. Welcoming and engaging newcomers continues today with Ys across the United States offering people the integration support they need to better transition well into their new communities.
Through services such as refugee resettlement and adult education classes like English as a Second Language (ESL), the Y helps people to be self-reliant, productive and connected to the community.
Volunteerism & Giving
The generosity of others is at the core of our existence. It is only through the support of our hundreds of thousands of volunteers and public and private donors that we are able to give back to the communities we serve.
As the leading nonprofit for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y works side-by-side with our neighbors every day to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. To do our important work, the Y relies on support from members, donors, volunteers and community leaders.
When you are involved with the Y, you help bring about lasting personal and social change. Whether you want to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve your or your family’s health and well-being, or give back and support your neighbors, your involvement with the Y will positively impact those in your community.
- Join the Y: Be a part of a cause for strengthening community that is committed every day to helping you and your kids learn, grow and thrive.
- Give to the Y: Donate vital financial resources for nurturing the potential of kids, improving the nation’s health and well-being, and giving back and supporting our neighbors.
- Volunteer at the Y: Take an active role in bringing about meaningful, enduring change right in your own neighborhood.
- Advocate with the Y: Address the nation’s most pressing social issues, with a nonprofit that has the long-standing track record and on-the-ground presence to not just promise, but deliver, lasting personal and social change.
We are a powerful ally and advocate for our communities. Our experience and strong relationships in 10,000 neighborhoods across the nation mean that we are able to organize grassroots efforts and influence public policy around a range of social issues including child welfare, education and public health.
Through advocacy at the local, state and federal levels, the Y is bringing families safe and affordable child care and afterschool options; making healthy choices available in communities to help prevent chronic disease; and ensuring that Ys have the ability to be a resource for healthy living, youth development and social responsibility in the communities they serve.
Lend Your Voice
The Y is a cause for strengthening community, working tirelessly to nurture the potential of kids, improve the nation’s health and well-being and give back and support our neighbors. When you advocate with the Y, you take an active role in bringing about meaningful, enduring change for your family, friends and community.
For Policy Makers
In Washington D.C., our Government Relations and Policy office works with Congress and the administration to advocate for policies and programs that help Ys strengthen communities throughout the nation. Serving more than 20 million members – more than 9 million members under the age of 18 – there is a Y in every congressional district in the United States strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
Healthier Communities Initiatives
At the Y, we work with community leaders to make the healthy choice the easy choice in all of the places where people live, work, learn and play.
Our Healthier Communities Initiatives are built on the concept that local communities can work together to give all community members healthy choices and support the pursuit of healthy lifestyles. More than 160 Ys are working in collaboration with community leaders to make changes in policies and the physical surroundings in those communities so that healthy living is within reach for individuals of all ages and backgrounds.
Creating a Healthier Environment
Ys engaged in our Healthier Communities Initiatives (Pioneering Healthier Communities, Statewide Pioneering Healthier Communities and ACHIEVE) are helping families put nutritious food on the table by bringing farmers markets with fresh fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods where healthy food options are scarce; giving parents peace of mind when they let their kids walk to school by creating safer routes; and keeping a generation of kids healthier by working with schools to increase physical education and physical activity during the school day. These examples are just the beginning.
Pioneering Healthier Communities
Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC), which launched in 2004, is the signature initiative of Activate America that focuses on policy and environmental change in communities to promote healthy lifestyles. With support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and corporate and foundation donors, Y-USA has provided seed funding to 117 Ys across the country and their communities to take on this work. Learn more about how our approach has helped communities succeed in making healthy change.
Statewide Pioneering Healthier Communities
Statewide Pioneering Healthier Communities builds on Y-USA’s PHC model to spread its learning and experience in community-level efforts, and develop these activities into statewide models for communities with some of the highest childhood obesity rates in the country. Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the aim of this initiative is to address the childhood obesity epidemic through policy, systems and environmental changes that will have implications for communities, states and the nation. Communities in the following states are participating in Statewide PHC: Connecticut, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.
Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and EnVironmental changE (ACHIEVE)
Launched in 2008 to support local health departments and YMCAs in advancing community leadership in the nation’s efforts to prevent chronic diseases and related risk factors, ACHIEVE was inspired in part by the Y’s Pioneering Healthier Communities. ACHIEVE is designed to unite YMCAs, local and state health departments, parks and recreation departments and other community based organizations more formally in the fight against chronic disease. ACHIEVE is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and is a partnership among the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD), the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), Society for Public Health Education and Y-USA.
The ACHIEVE model capitalizes on the experience and expertise of national organizations in strengthening community leadership, building capacity, and activating change. Establishing partnerships with national organizations to implement policy, systems, and environmental changes is an efficient and effective mechanism for achieving chronic disease prevention and health promotion goals in communities.