Critical Efforts focused on food distribution, child care, seniors, teens, and addressing racial and social inequities and garnered an $18 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott
HOUSTON (DEC. 30, 2020) – For 134 years, the YMCA of Greater Houston has served as a cause-driven organization where all people can find hope, fellowship and healing. Despite the many challenges 2020 brought to Houstonians, the Y continued to strengthen its core mission, building on the long history of supporting communities, as well as responding to critical needs. During the pandemic the Y made a commitment to address isolation, food insecurity, health disparities, learning gaps, racial and social inequities and much more.
“I am very proud of our staff for pivoting during a global crisis and stepping in to positively impact so many Houstonians,” states Stephen Ives, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Houston. “The pandemic exposed critical issues that require more action from the Y than ever before. Creating positive impact within the community relies on just that – the community. After a loss this year of $50 million dollars of revenue, the support of many allows us to stay the course and amplify our efforts.”
As a result of the critical efforts that were implemented throughout the year, the YMCA of Greater Houston garnered attention from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott resulting in an $18 million gift to continue the transformative work within the community. This gift will lay the groundwork for the organization to accelerate innovation, expand community outreach programs, advance racial and social 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.
YMCA Equity Innovation Center Powered by Reliant
To fight racial and social injustice, the YMCA of Greater Houston launched the Equity Innovation Center. The ultimate goal of the center is to provide educational resources and activities so all participating individuals and groups walk away with a solid learning or unlearning, and a commitment to personal change and willingness to act. Likewise, the effort will help companies and organizations develop, or enhance, inclusive equity plans to better engage and support their employees and customers.
Child Care for Essential Personnel
The YMCA of Greater Houston dedicated 20 child care facilities just for essential personnel this year – allowing these providers to continue to serve their city while knowing their children were safe and well-cared for. The centers were staffed with certified teachers and included enrichment activities such as arts, crafts, games, literacy, STEAM projects and more.
The YMCA collaborated with organizations such as the Houston Food Bank, Montgomery County Food Bank, Brighter Bites and Interfaith Ministries to address the growing need and the rapidly increasing food insecurity rates in the community. As a result, the YMCA of Greater Houston spent 455,000+ hours serving food and critical supplies and reached over 1 million families.
Additionally, YMCA International Services ongoing partnership with Houston Food Bank resulted in food distributions to community of clients and other individuals experiencing food insecurity two times a week. Since March 2020, YMCA International Services has held more than 65 food distribution events at the Westpark office providing over 1 million pounds of food to nearly 12,000 families.
YMCA members and community participants of all ages and backgrounds spent 43,000+ hours per week connecting with one another and staying active through Virtual YMCA programs. The on-demand virtual platform included virtual workouts to keep people active and connected and virtual education resources for children to continue learning during school closures.
During the pandemic, Y Teen L.I.F.E. not only continued to provide opportunities to connect through traditional club-based programs but it also ensured young people middle through high school continued to have opportunities to connect, learn, and share with virtual experiences. The virtual events included lively Teen Town Halls with Houston special guests, Summer College Tours, #BOSSUP Entrepreneurship Workshops, and the Changemakers Experiences focusing on social justice and advocacy. Through these opportunities, plus many more, the Y served more than 2,000 young people virtually.
The YMCA of Greater Houston’s efforts continued with various programs and services for Houston’s senior citizens. The Y’s board members conducted 11,692 well-being calls to check in on the city’s most vulnerable population by providing words of encouragement and preventing social isolation. Virtual exercise classes specifically for this age group were also provided, and continue to be provided, so they can remain active. Earlier this year, local organizations partnered with the Trotter Family YMCA and the Weekley Family YMCA to provide thousands of carefully crafted comfort cards to senior adult members.
- With the assistance of local partners, the YMCA of Greater Houston provided school supplies to over 31,000 Houston-area children in need to ensure that they had the tools to be successful in an already difficult school year.
- YMCA Camp Cullen was reinvented to provide families an opportunity to escape to the woods together to experience meaningful family time with one another during a pandemic.
- YMCA International’s Employment team served 1,018 individuals and placed 588 of them into meaningful employment at an average wage of $12.56 per hour.
For more information about the YMCA of Greater Houston or ways to support their efforts and get involved, please visit https://www.ymcahouston.org/ and follow the organization on Facebook @YMCAHouston and Instagram @YMCAHouston.
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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.