2008 Philanthropic Giving Boosts YMCA of the USA's Impact On Low-Income and Underserved Populations

CHICAGO, March 24, 2009— In 2008, philanthropic giving to YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) helped the organization increase its capacity and make a difference in the lives of millions of children, families and communities across America.  Corporations and foundations chose YMCA of the USA to receive more than $23.8 million because of the profound impact YMCAs have had in the communities they serve.

“Especially during an economic downturn, this philanthropic support allows us to continue to provide programs and services to ensure that every person and community we touch has the opportunity to thrive,” said Neil Nicoll, President and CEO of YMCA of the USA. “We realize that our organization faces continued challenges in the year ahead, but we also recognize that those we serve are facing even greater challenges.  Our commitment to helping all YMCA communities build meaningful, secure and healthy futures never wavers.”

As the national resource office for the nation’s 2,686 YMCAs, YMCA of the USA secures donor funds to support programs at YMCAs across the country that address critical needs related to community and family health, safety and the needs of low-income and underserved populations, such as afterschool programming and early learning initiatives. Today, six in 10 YMCAs serve communities where median family income falls below the national average, and one in five kids in YMCA child care benefits from financial assistance.

With strong philanthropic support, YMCA national initiatives that leverage the reach of local YMCAs in addressing these significant social issues have shown significant growth. The number of YMCAs participating in Activate America™, the YMCA’s response to the nation’s lifestyle health crisis, increased to 500 in 2008.   Activate America YMCAs target environmental changes and program innovation to build stronger relationships with individuals and families who struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Also, nearly 100 communities are engaged in Pioneering Healthier Communities, an integral component of Activate America that engages community leaders in creating and implementing policies and change strategies – bike and walking paths, vending machine policies, physical education requirements – that provide more opportunities for healthier living.

In addition, Y-USA awarded $9.2 million in individual grants – ranging from $500 to $160,000 each – to 800 YMCAs nationwide in support of programs and services that support the holistic development of children and youth, family strengthening and health and well-being for all.

In 2008, Y-USA garnered a number of significant charitable gifts to enhance its capacity to positively impact individuals and communities:

  • With support from Lumina Foundation for Education, the YMCA began integration of the College Goal Sunday program into its core educational and college preparatory programs for youth.  College Goal Sunday helps the YMCA assist low-income, at-risk or non-traditional students with one of the most significant obstacles to college access and success—the financial aid process.  College Goal Sunday provides free, on-site professional assistance filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  In 2008, this program helped 35,000 families in 37 states and the District of Columbia.  
  • Y-USA’s Pioneering Healthier Communities initiative was identified as a model for creating sustainable change by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as part of its national strategy to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity. A grant from the foundation will help YMCA communities and state alliances create community-wide, systemic changes that address the childhood obesity epidemic.
  • Through a collaboration with the Lance Armstrong Foundation, select YMCAs across the country now pilot physical activity and well-being initiatives to address the specific wants, needs and interests of cancer survivors. The Ann Arbor (MI) YMCA, for example, is one of several YMCAs offering a 12-week small group program designed for adult cancer survivors who have recently become de-conditioned or chronically fatigued from their treatment and/or disease.  Certified fitness instructors trained by Stanford University and the YMCA provide individualized instruction on post rehab exercise, nutrition and supportive cancer care. Program goals include helping patients build muscle mass and muscle strength, increase flexibility and endurance, improve functional ability, reduce the severity of therapy side effects and improve energy levels and self-esteem.
  • Financial support from the JCPenney Afterschool Fund to YMCA afterschool programs gave more than 9,900 youth nationwide a safe place to go between 3 and 6 p.m. Donations included funds raised from an in-store promotion inviting customers to “round up” their purchase price to the nearest dollar, with proceeds benefiting the JCPenney Afterschool Fund.  The JCPenney Afterschool Fund, in turn, contributed these funds to Y-USA, which re-granted them to local YMCA afterschool programs of YMCAs matched with a JCPenney store. Such programs are making a difference in the lives of kids like “Vickie” from Appleton, WI, who every day heads to the YMCA Horizons Afterschool Learning Center, where she finds stability and consistency during a difficult time of transition for her and her mother.
  • In 2008, Y-USA launched a new relationship with Boeing Company to support an early learning planning and pilot project focused on better preparing young children in low-income, military and immigrant families for success in school and in life.  In 2009, Y-USA will form an Early Learning Expert Panel, made up of internal and external specialists, to help identify, select and evaluate models and programs for testing and future replication in YMCAs nationwide.
  • The generous support of Eli Lilly and Company allowed Y-USA to launch Healthy Family Home, an interactive resource that is designed to help families with children ages 5-12 assess and modify their home behaviors and environments to better support and sustain healthier lifestyles. More than 600,000 families have received a “Starter Kit” to help them create and sustain a Healthy Family Home.
  • Supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, YMCAs served more than 11,350 immigrants and their families through direct programs and services in 2008. Y-USA designed and facilitated two workshops, Strengthening Inclusion: Engaging Newcomers and Immigrants in Your MCA and Engaging Hispanic and Latino Communities in Your YMCA, aimed at raising awareness and understanding of local demographics and key community issues among diverse constituencies.

 “YMCAs touched 21 million lives in 2008,” said Nicoll, “and the generous support of our donors played a big part of that success.  We look forward to working with them to help all Y communities work toward their highest potential in 2009.” 

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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 to find your local YMCA.

Diane Hurles


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

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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.