FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

YMCAs Honored for Outstanding Family Strengthening Programs

Annie E. Casey Foundation award recognizes exemplary work in their communities

CHICAGO, IL, August 26, 2008—YMCA of the USA today announced that five YMCAs have been named recipients of the 2008 YMCA of the USA/Annie E. Casey Foundation Families Count: Family Strengthening Award in recognition of their exemplary family strengthening work.

This is the third year that YMCA of the USA, with the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, has presented the award to YMCAs whose innovative work supports the development of strong, capable and economically successful families. The selected YMCAs will receive $15,000 each in recognition of their accomplishments and will serve as models for YMCA family strengthening programs throughout the United States.

The five award recipients were chosen from submissions from local YMCAs across the country that serve low-income, disadvantaged families and provide intentional family services that improve outcomes for children.

“Research confirms that children and families do better when they live in supportive communities,” said Neil Nicoll, President and CEO of YMCA of the USA. “We are very proud of the accomplishments of the 2008 Family Strengthening Award recipients and are grateful to the Annie E. Casey Foundation for supporting their work and stimulating family strengthening discussions and activities within our organization. Each of the recognized programs this year is a wonderful example of the broad array of family services and partnerships that YMCAs provide in rural, urban and suburban communities alike.”
Award recipient YMCAs and their programs include:

YMCA of Greater Long Beach (CA)
Downtown Community Development Branch
The YMCA of Greater Long Beach Community Development Branch serves 1,600 individuals daily with programs that include family education and support, community leadership and health and fitness for its low income, culturally diverse, urban community. The branch offers adult programming to strengthen parenting skills including literacy, family math, conflict mediation and public speaking; and the Community Leadership Institute trains residents to become school and community leaders and positive role models for their children. 
           
YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids (MI)
Since 2002, the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids’ Healthy U program has provided low-income children and their families access to programs that strengthen and equip them to develop healthy lifestyle habits and prevent chronic disease by working together as a family to meet wellness goals. Families and children are empowered through nutrition carnivals; a family nutrition education series; access to farmers’ markets; a Kids in Action program; Camp Healthy U; and referrals to social services for housing, food and employment needs. 

YMCA of Greater Louisville (KY)
YMCA Safe Place Services
Through a continuum of services, YMCA Safe Place provides free 24-hour help for teens and families in crisis through their 24-bed emergency teen residential shelter, 24-hour hotline and intensive and immediate case management by skilled staff at more than 340 Safe Place sites throughout the city. YMCA Safe Place provides services to keep families together and works to prevent youth from having to enter the court system or state social service system. In 2007, more than 700 teens and families were helped through the Hotline and 792 youth found safety in the Shelter House program.

YMCA of South Hampton Roads (Norfolk, VA)
Community Services Branch
This “YMCA without Walls” helps underserved families in the Hampton Roads communities through parenting education, Escape to the Arts summer day camp, and afterschool tutoring. To help bridge the digital divide, the Y established the InterActive Mobile Learning Center, a converted transit bus which serves as a 12-computer station and educational center with internet access for kids and families living in low-income communities with no computer or internet access. In addition, the branch links families to KidsPriorityOne, a free information and family referral service Web site.

YMCA of Lincoln (NE)
The YMCA of Lincoln provides vital resources to local families through a Community Learning Center initiative model with three areas of focus: improving student learning and achievement, developing stronger families and developing a healthier neighborhood. Through initiatives such as “Weigh Cool,” to help kids combat obesity;  English as Second Language classes;  “Safe Walk to School Day;” and workshops on home ownership, this YMCA is deeply committed to the learning centers and outreach efforts in the communities it serves.  

“The Families Count: Family Strengthening Awards honor the people and programs working every day to improve the prospects of children and families,” said Miriam Shark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  “Effective family strengthening programs are relationship-based, family-focused and neighborhood-driven - and the YMCAs being recognized this year show the rest of us how this is done. Their outstanding work creates hope and opens the doors to real opportunities for families.”

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ABOUT THE ANNIE E. CASEY FOUNDATION:  Since 1948, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has worked to build better futures for disadvantaged children and their families in the United States. The primary mission of the Foundation is to foster public policies, human service reforms, and community supports that more effectively meet the needs of today's vulnerable children and families. The YMCA of the USA/Annie E. Casey Foundation Families Count: Family Strengthening Awards program recognizes YMCAs whose programs support the development of strong, capable and economically successful families. Award recipients receive $15,000 in recognition for their outstanding efforts and serve as role models for YMCA family-strengthening programs throughout the U.S.

ABOUT YMCA of the USA: YMCA of the USA is the national resource office for the nation’s 2,686 YMCAs, which serve 21 million people each year, including nearly 10 million children under the age of 18. YMCAs respond to critical social needs by drawing on their collective strength as one of America’s largest not-for-profit community service organizations. Through a variety of programs and services focused on the holistic development of children and youth, family strengthening, and health and well-being for all, YMCAs unite men, women and children of all ages, faiths, backgrounds, abilities and income levels. From urban areas to small towns, YMCAs have proudly served America’s communities for nearly 160 years by building healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Visit www.ymca.net to find your local YMCA.

Contact:
Diane Hurles
Donor Relations Manager
YMCA of the USA
312-419-8374
diane.hurles@YMCA.net

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

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The YMCA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.