The YMCA of Greater Houston’s commitment to strengthening communities prioritizes the safety and well-being of our staff and community. The YMCA of Greater Houston condemns the hateful and harmful discrimination and violence towards Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities. For generations the Asian population has been a target of hate in the United States. Often the painful discrimination that our API community experiences is invisible and under-reported.
As a global community, we are stronger together and we stand against all forms of racism, discrimination and inequities. Many of these issues are multi-layered and complex and we are committed to educating our community and ourselves while we become the change we want to see. Here are some ways the YMCA of Greater Houston is addressing these inequities:
We have formed an internal Equity Innovation Center Advisory Group “EAG” that includes executive leadership and various staff from different positions, gender, color and background. The group contracts and consults with experts in racial equality to process and address the YMCA of Greater Houston’s systemic racial inequities and provide trainings for all staff and board members to address bias, dimensions of diversity, cultural lenses and allyship.
Since inception, 20% of the YMCA of Greater Houston full-time staff have been engaged in depth diversity, inclusion and equity learning in 2020. We have opportunities for full-time and part-time staff and have a long-term strategy to train all staff.
We have piloted a Youth Changemakers cohort for young people who are ready to be on the frontlines of meaningful, inclusive and lasting change in their local community.
The YMCA of Greater Houston Equity Innovation Center creates shared spaces for inclusive programs promoting humanity and inclusivity while advancing equity and undoing institutional racism. The Center has hosted virtual experiences and engagement within the community, which includes partnerships, and equity engagement listening sessions on how to dismantle systemic racism to how to talk about racism.
We encourage staff and members to speak up when they see something unjust happening in their community knowing that staying silent could be a matter of life or death.
We acknowledge the lack of representation of the API community in our teams and embrace the opportunity to diversify our staff, volunteers, and programs.
We promise to be an anti-racist, welcoming, and inclusive organization to serve all without any preconceived notions or bias.
We will continue to build not only safe spaces, but also brave spaces for our staff, volunteers, and members of the community to connect, learn, and act.
The responsibility to advocate for humanity belongs to all of us. We must recognize our own biases and judgements and work towards ensuring inclusivity and liberation for all people. We unite together. We rise together.
Take action and learn more from our Equity Innovation Network:
Stephen Ives, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Houston
Stephen Ives has more than 30 years of service in the YMCA movement and is recognized as a national leader in innovation, diversity and entrepreneurship as well as for the prevention of child sexual abuse. He also remains committed to the Y’s mission of strengthening the foundations of community to end isolation, fight inequality, inspire youth to thrive, remove limits and reimagine opportunities, and restore hope and well-being.
The YMCA of Greater Houston’s Equity Innovation Center is a space for members of the community to learn, lead, organize, advocate and connect with intention and a shared focus on advancing equity and undoing institutional racism.
Change Starts With Education
We all hear words like systemic racism and equity, but do you really know what they mean? Understanding each other’s language is the first step to understanding different perspectives.
The process in which individuals are blocked from (or denied full access to) various rights, opportunities and resources that are normally available to members of a different group, and which are fundamental to social integration and observance of human rights within that particular group.
“This experience boosted my courage to be able to act or confront racism in my personal life.”
“The past year has felt so isolating and has, in some ways, forced us to stay in our bubbles and grow in apathy, anger, depression, etc. – but the EIC allows us to come together, communicate, and learn so that we can once again be filled with hope, recognize the humanity of each person, shed those negative emotions, and leave empowered to continue to fight the good fight for all of us.”
“The EIC provides a space to challenge ourselves and each other to learn about the intricate nuances of our identities and life experiences.”
“This was my first experience with the EIC and I was impressed. The diverse viewpoints, energy and passion was exciting to hear within a safe space where all ideas and thoughts are welcome. Thank you so much for this!”
“The content was true, powerful and educative. And demonstrates the YMCA is an organization that is actively against racism and discrimination.”
YMCA OF GREATER HOUSTON RECEIVES HISTORIC GIFT FROM AUTHOR AND PHILANTHROPIST MACKENZIE SCOTT
Gift to accelerate the Y’s innovation and outreach efforts and expand local equity initiatives
HOUSTON (December 15, 2020) – The YMCA of Greater Houston received a transformational gift from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The $18 million gift is the YMCA of Greater Houston’s single largest donation in its 134-year history. It will lay the groundwork for the organization to accelerate innovation, expand community outreach programs, advance equity work, and provide an avenue for all in the community to not just speak change, but to truly spark it through YMCA involvement as an Impact Member.
“We are honored MacKenzie Scott recognized the YMCA of Greater Houston for the impact we have made on the Houston community. This gift reflects our long-standing history of being an integral part of the community and our ability to respond and reinvent to meet pressing needs as they arise. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the financial support of many,” said Stephen Ives, President and CEO, the YMCA of Greater Houston. “When COVID-19 forced us to stop traditional activities in our buildings, our staff pivoted from their normal duties and went out to help the community in their greatest time of need. From spending hours outside distributing food to families in need to fighting for racial inequities, our courageous team stepped up to the plate because it was the right thing to do. After a loss this year of $50 million dollars of revenue, this gift will allow us to stay the course and amplify our efforts.”
Last year, MacKenzie Scott pledged to give the majority of her wealth back to the society that helped generate it. As 2020 unfolded, she identified 116 organizations driving change in the areas of Racial Equality, LGBTQ + Equity, Public Health, Climate Change and more and gifted $1.7 billion.
Today’s announcement is a continuation of her commitment acknowledging organizations, such as the YMCA of Greater Houston, that are operating in communities facing high projected food insecurities, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.
“These 384 carefully selected teams have dedicated their lives to helping others, working and volunteering and serving real people face-to-face at bedsides and tables, in prisons and courtrooms and classrooms, on streets and hospital wards and hotlines and frontlines of all types and sizes, day after day after day,” states MacKenzie Scott – mom, writer and advocate. “They help by delivering vital services, and also through the profound encouragement felt each time a person is seen, valued, and trusted by another human being – this kind of encouragement has a special power when it comes from a stranger, and it works its magic on everyone.”
The YMCA of Greater Houston will use the $18 million gift to sustain current efforts as well as help move forward with refined initiatives that end isolation, fight inequality, inspire youth to thrive, remove limits and reimagine opportunities for all, and restore hope and well-being for refugees and immigrants.
This gift is a generous launching pad to support the Y as the continued work in the community aims to support issues impacting Houstonians each and every day. The community need is great, and despite current challenges, the Y is committed to addressing critical needs, but they can’t do it without the community’s help.
To learn more about how you can support the YMCA of Greater Houston, please click here. To donate, click here.
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About YMCA of Greater Houston
Founded in 1886, today the Y remains committed to the health of more than half a million people in Greater Houston who learn, grow and thrive through programs and services at our 25 centers. Strengthening community is our cause. Together, we connect active, engaged Greater Houston Area residents to build a better us.