Americans Set Higher Standards for Their Communities, Particularly the Safety and Education of Children, Says New YMCA Survey 

Y Community Snapshot Survey finds Americans feel education is a priority in making their communities stronger; yet 64 percent believe achievement gap barriers exist

CHICAGO (April 25, 2013) – As confidence in the U.S. economy continues to waver, Americans’ expectations for their communities have risen and in some cases changed, according to findings released today from the Y Community Snapshot. Respondents rate education and community involvement as increasingly vital to building and sustaining strong communities, a +7.4 and +4.8 percent change from 2012. The survey also found a 30 percent gap between what people say is most important in creating a strong community today and how satisfied they are with their own community’s performance in those areas. 

Y Community Snapshot participants ranked providing a safe environment for children as the top priority for a second consecutive year.  Their local school systems were ranked as the second most important factor impacting their community’s strength – up from fifth place last year. In addition, 64 percent of parents believe an educational achievement gap exists within their community, specifically as it relates to an individual’s income, status or wealth. 

The Y Community Snapshot, commissioned by YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), is a consumer survey measuring how Americans view quality of life in their communities nationwide. The survey is based on factors such as community member involvement, and the quality of a community’s services ranging from education to promoting healthy lifestyles.

“It’s encouraging that, despite lingering day-to-day uncertainty, Americans are looking ahead to what it will take to make their communities strong in the future,” said Neil Nicoll, president and CEO, Y-USA. “It bodes well for our nation that Americans believe educational opportunities and the well-being of our youth are the top priorities in their communities.”

Americans expect more from their communities – and each other – now more than ever. According to the survey, Americans feel it’s even more important now to contribute their time and money to community causes (an 8 percent and 10.5 percent increase from 2012.) 

Americans See Education and Employment Opportunities as Key to Communities’ Future

The Y Community Snapshot also found that Americans are looking more to education to help improve the quality of life in their community. In fact, five of the top 10 most important community strength drivers focused on education and children. Forty percent of respondents believe that it’s the responsibility of schools, colleges and other educational institutions to improve the quality of life across communities.


Additionally, the ability to offer employment opportunities and job training for teens and young adults jumped into the top 10 most important drivers for building a strong community, with an increase of more than 5 percent over last year. 

Other key findings include: 

  • Public education is the number one area Y Community Snapshot respondents say they would allocate local tax dollars to in order to strengthen their community. Nearly half of parents (46 percent) rate their community’s school system or child’s school as average or below average in providing the resources, services, people and programs to help students who want or need additional or extra assistance, support and opportunity.
  • Three of four respondents (72 percent) feel the “educational achievement gap” reduces, limits or negatively impacts a young person’s chances, opportunity or ability to succeed in adult life.
  • About three-fourths (72 percent) of parents say they currently use or have used some form of childcare (defined as “any service (excluding personal babysitter) where someone else is caring for your children including daycare”).
  • Over forty percent (43 percent) of parents who currently use or have used childcare rely upon before or afterschool programs or daycare.

With 2,700 Ys across the nation, the Y helps fill the gap by providing places where people can pool their efforts to strengthen communities. As part of the nonprofit’s commitment to youth development, the Y is also addressing the disparities in educational opportunities for children and youth in low-income or otherwise struggling communities, transforming its collective educational programming to help more youth succeed in school. 

About the Y Community Snapshot The Y Community Snapshot was conducted online by Toluna ( between February 20 and 25, 2013 and is an opinion survey of 1,500 online interviews with U.S. adults aged 18+ conforming to U.S. Census parameters for age, gender, and region of residence. The survey has a total of 30 questions and a +/- 2.5 - 2.75% margin of error at 95% confidence for demographic, behavioral, attitudinal and other subgroups within the survey. 

For more information, or to see additional survey results, please visit


About YMCA of the USA YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) is the national resource office for the Y, one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.

Contact: Mamie Moore YMCA of the USA 312-419-8418  

Christy White GolinHarris 202-585-2642

Monday, April 29, 2013

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