Where would you go to get more information about access to initiatives that improve academic success for young people, address chronic disease prevention, provide educational afterschool programs, offer minority career development and create summer learning opportunities? The answer may surprise you. 

The YMCA of Greater Louisville is completing its 164th year of service in this community and is continuing on the journey of building on its mission of promoting spiritual, mental and physical growth for everyone.

Many community representatives participated in developing the Y’s Strategic Vision! Tricia Burke, Board Chair for the YMCA of Greater Louisville said, “We held 22 sessions with 509 individuals — volunteers, community leaders, Y staff and teens.  The plan encompasses five aspirational pillars:  education; health; connecting people; accessibility; and character & ethics. “

These aspirations serve to guide the organization’s activities — from youth development programs to fitness and lifelong learning classes —and fuel their ambitions toward doing the most they can for the betterment of all.

Community stakeholders identified education as Louisville’s greatest community need.  The Y is a strong advocate for academic and career success and recognizes the critical relationship between a healthy community and a well-educated community.

In collaboration with four schools in Kentuckiana, the Y has served 1,000 children in summer learning programs designed to prevent summer learning loss.  The data indicated the children in these programs averaged a one- to three-month gain in reading.

Additionally, the Y’s forty-year history of supporting minorities in career development and education continues in the nationally known Black Achievers Program.

Health was the most important concern for Louisvillians after education.  The Y has committed to being a leader in public health policy issues and an advocate for health equity.

YMCA Branches serve thousands of members sharing a journey with them for better health, lifestyle change, and chronic disease prevention.  As a result of this work, the Y’s vision is that our community will foster healthy behaviors for everyone with an emphasis on improving nutrition and increasing opportunities for physical activity.  The end result…a reduction in chronic disease and an improvement in quality of life.  Nowhere was this vision more prevalent than with the plans for a west Louisville YMCA facility.

After working on a vision of Community Integrated Health for ten years, the big news for the Y during 2017 was the groundbreaking for the new facility at 18th and Broadway held on October 19. The new Republic Foundation YMCA will join other partners including Norton Healthcare, Family and Children’s Place, ProRehab, and Republic Bank in a unique collaboration to provide a continuum of health services in west Louisville. The Y and its neighbor, Passport Health, are already working together in this quest.  The new facility, designed by local architectural and design firm Luckett & Farley, is expected to serve up to 200,000 in the community annually.

The third component of the Y’s strategic vision is “connecting people”.  By creating powerful and uplifting relationships, the Y’s goal is to improve the quality of life of its members, increase involvement in our community and deepen compassion through meaningful connections.

The Y connects people by supporting healthy relationships, service, belonging, and working to prevent social isolation, the latter of which is one of the most significant barriers to health, independence, and a strong community.

“Togetherhood” projects, where Y members and volunteers come together to provide service to others, take place all year long and connect people from diverse backgrounds.

The community reported that accessibility, the fourth pillar, means more than financial assistance.  The Y works every day to welcome and encourage everyone in our community.  The goal is to minimize economic, geographic and cultural barriers, allowing individuals to thrive and experience their greatest potential.

The Newcomer after-school program, engages over 100 children of refugees in our community in education, sports, language development, and service in a partnership with JCPS.

Camp Piomingo provides opportunities for youth from vulnerable environments to spend a week without charge, developing values, skills, and lifelong friendships.

The Y’s National Safe Place Network was again chosen by the Department of Health & Human Services to provide assistance and training to agencies ALL ACROSS THE U.S. that serve runaway and homeless youth.

Everything the Y offers is available on a sliding scale fee structure.  Many programs are without charge such as Newcomer after-school program, YMCA Safe Place Services, and Safety Around Water, just to name a few.

Holding all this together, is the Y’s commitment to character and ethics.  Caring, honesty, respect and responsibility are the Y’s core values and the thread throughout all programs and services.