YMCA Commits to Aligning Youth Development Efforts with My Brother’s Keeper Milestones

Statement of Kevin Washington, YMCA of the USA President and CEO

WASHINGTON, February 29, 2016 – The nation’s 2,700 YMCAs work to meet the needs of the communities they serve and to address the critical social issues that affect youth and limit their opportunities for success. As one of the nation’s largest nonprofit providers of youth development programs, the Y is committed to aligning our work with the key milestones of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, helping ensure that: children enter school ready to learn, read at grade level by third grade, graduate from high school ready for college and career, complete postsecondary education or training, successfully enter the workforce, are safe from community violence and get the support necessary for second chances, if needed.

This work is consistent with the Y’s 165-year history of service in the U.S. and incorporates important ingredients for every child’s journey to adulthood. It is particularly critical in under-resourced communities and to our nation’s most vulnerable youth, including those who have a higher risk of exposure to trauma, conflict and violence. For decades, YMCAs have offered a continuum of programs and services aimed at improving outcomes for these “opportunity youth.”

To elevate our longstanding commitment to youth development and our contemporary commitment to the My Brother’s Keeper milestones, the Y is pledging to:

  • continue reaching out to community partners to strengthen and expand locally driven strategies and best practices, and working collectively to support opportunity youth and improve their chances for success;
  • work with public (government) and private (philanthropic and corporate) sector leaders to help grow these local efforts in order to meet the needs of a greater number of youth and young adults;
  • support community efforts to increase the number of high-quality mentors and mentoring programs;
  • continue to meet the academic needs of children and help close achievement gaps through quality afterschool, summer and early-learning programs; and
  • recognize the unique characteristics and circumstances of each young person, and honor and respond to their needs by creating the most inclusive experiences possible.

The Y agrees with private and public sector leaders who have called for greater attention to the critical needs of youth and areas where the most significant impact can be achieved through thoughtful action, and we feel a sense of urgency in responding to these calls because too many young futures are being lost to poverty and violence. In response to this call, YMCA of the USA has convened a national task force, with representation from many of the Ys leading our organization’s best work in support of opportunity youth, to explore ways to increase our collective impact across America.

To help improve long-term outcomes for opportunity youth, the Y provides kids, teens and young adults with high-quality programs and interventions including therapeutic mentoring, juvenile justice and delinquency prevention, youth violence prevention, teen workforce development, college access, early learning, afterschool and summer academic achievement programs, supports for youth experiencing homelessness or in the foster care system, and much more. YMCAs are also collaborating with municipalities, elected officials and community partners to meet the needs of vulnerable youth by identifying and assessing community needs, convening stakeholders and sharing best practices and innovative strategies, among other actions.

As an organization committed to nurturing the potential of every child and teen, the Y works every day, all across the country, to provide safe places where youth can live, learn, play and grow while being supported and mentored by caring adults. Our holistic approach to developing the social-emotional, cognitive and physical well-being of youth helps cultivate the values, skills and relationships that lead to positive behaviors, better health and educational achievement for our nation’s youth.

Media Contact:

Kelly Kennai, YMCA of the USA

(202) 688-4736, kelly.kennai@ymca.net

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About the Y

The Y is 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 22 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. ymca.net

Monday, February 29, 2016

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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.