Today, the Y engages more than 10,000 neighborhoods across the U.S. As the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to helping people and communities to learn, grow and thrive, our contributions are both far-reaching and intimate—from influencing our nation’s culture during times of profound social change to the individual support we provide an adult learning to read.
By nurturing the potential of every child and teen, improving the nation’s health and well-being, and supporting and serving our neighbors, the Y ensures that everyone has the opportunity to become healthier, more confident, connected and secure.
Here’s a glance at our rich history, and a snapshot of our many successes over the last 160 years on behalf of the individuals and communities we are privileged to serve.
YMCA Founded in Cincinnati
English as a second language program begins
Providing services to Civil War soldiers
Young Men’s Christian Association name is approved
Early beginnings of the Chase College
“Stranger’s Home” offers community support
The Y is incorporated
The Heyl House opens its doors
The Y opens railroad branches
Work begins on "Negro" branch
Swimmers are enjoying the new bubble that now covers the Olympic-sized Powel Crosley, Jr. YMCA outdoor pool. This $1 million project will enable competitive and recreational swimmers to enjoy more opportunities to swim, year round.
Interior demolition work is underway at the historic Central Parkway YMCA, located at 1105 Elm Street in downtown Cincinnati. The $27 million project will include an upgrade of the fitness facility on the lower floors, and upper level remodeling to provide affordable housing for seniors. The “new” Central Parkway YMCA is expected to open in early 2016.
There is no organization quite like the Y. From our inception, the Y has changed lives, ignited spirits, and strengthened communities by delivering innovative programs and services that address pressing social needs.
There are more than 2,700 YMCA’s across the United States, engaging over nine million youth and 13 million adults each year. Worldwide, the Y serves more than 45 million people in 125 countries.
George Williams founded the YMCA in 1844. Back then, industrialized London was a place of great turmoil and despair. For the young men who migrated to the city from rural areas to find jobs, London offered a bleak landscape of tenement housing and dangerous influences. 22-year-old George Williams, a farmer-turned-department store worker, was troubled by what he saw. He joined 11 friends to organize the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the streets.
For more on the history of the YMCA, click here.