The YMCA of Greater Houston is announcing first quarter 2021 impact initiatives as a result of community commitments, impactful partnerships and purposeful opportunities. The nonprofit is transforming its model to do more for the Houston communities. The YMCA of Greater Houston’s initiatives in 2021 are more inclusive, solution-oriented and establish the Y as not a place, a purpose.
“I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to our partners, staff, members and all of our new Impact Members who have contributed to being a helping hand in our community,” states Stephen Ives, President & CEO, YMCA of Greater Houston. “The YMCA is more than buildings. We exist to bring real change to issues affecting our neighbors and we look forward to continue helping those who need support the most.”
The Y is committed to addressing five key areas of impact in Houston: ending isolation through critical community outreach and senior enrichment; inspiring youth to thrive by cultivating confidence and fostering leadership; fighting inequality with education and action through the YMCA Equity Innovation Center; removing limits and reimagine opportunities for youth and adults with diverse abilities through sports and fellowship; and restoring hope and wellbeing by providing immigration legal services and advocating for refugees and victims of human trafficking. Below are the activities during the first quarter that have made an impact in many lives.
- Increased Minimum Pay to Address Equity Within the Organization –The YMCA was able to provide a livable wage for its staff as a result of the generous $18 million gift the organization received from philanthropist and author, MacKenzie Scott. The Y increased the minimum pay for all frontline full-time associates to $15 per hour and increased the minimum pay for all part-time employees to $10 per hour. This adjustment in entry level pay was the first step in addressing equity within the organization and providing more livable wages for the Y’s frontline workers who have been instrumental throughout the pandemic. With Ms. Scott’s donation, along with ongoing support from donors and Impact Members, the YMCA will be able to continue its efforts to make the community stronger while empowering the organization’s dedicated staff.
- Honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Drove Conversation –With aggressive work within the community to end inequities, the YMCA of Greater Houston hosted a variety of events to expand not only knowledge, but the number of resources available for the community who is interested in doing the same. The YMCA Equity Innovation Center, the first of its kind in Texas to spark change, teamed up with BakerRipley, Capital One, Harris Health Systems, Houston Texans and Reliant to present the city’s inaugural Sunday Supper on Jan. 17. Hundreds of Houstonians joined the evening for conversation and collective action centered around building an equitable community for generations to come.
- Provided Emergency Resources for Houstonians During Winter Storm Uri –Through the Y’s partnerships with the City of Houston, Houston Texans, City Council Members and Constellation Energy, the YMCA of Greater Houston opened three warming shelters to the public, which provided nearly 2,500 cases of water, served more than 2,000 hot meals, distributed 400 portable chargers, and most importantly, let Houstonians know they were not alone. Through each of these initiatives, the Y established they are not a place, but a purpose as they helped Houstonians navigate yet another unprecedented situation.
- Closing Learning Gaps and Ending Social Isolation for Seniors with GetSetUp Digital Platform –The YMCA of Greater Houston was the first to innovate and offer GetSetUp to help the wellbeing of 1.5 million Houstonians over age 50. The GetSetUp platform is designed for individuals over 50, with live, virtual classes led by experts available around-the-clock on every topic. The educational platform promotes lifelong learning and will focus on supporting older adults to drive digital adoption while increasing member engagement through small, intimate classes. By enabling the creation of instructional content with easy step-by-step demonstration, the Y can help members learn new skills and unlock new life experiences. When individuals attain the ability to master new technology, they open themselves to staying healthy, active and connected – which has always been part of the Y’s mission.
- Launched “Be Why” Campaign –The YMCA of Greater Houston launched its “Be Why” Campaign, a multi-faceted initiative focused to solve community inequities, inspire action and showcase the Y differently. The campaign highlights the five areas of impact and demonstrates how being part of the Y mission can “be why” someone in Houston is able to thrive.
- Offered ‘Impact Membership’ that Does More for the Community –The pandemic had a financially devastating impact on the YMCA of Greater Houston and the need is still great. Despite the Y’s current financial challenges and losing $50 million in revenue throughout 2020, the Y is still committed to addressing critical needs. Many people know the Y as a gym, but others in the community know the Y to be much more. By launching the Impact Membership, the $25 monthly membership lets Houstonians open doors for countless families and individuals of the community without ever setting foot in one of the facilities. To date, 851 members have signed up to be part of the mission. The Impact Membership is just the beginning in a shift to become an even more inclusive, purpose-driven entity.
- Phase One Revitalized Website Launch –The YMCA of Greater Houston has reshaped its website to focus on inclusivity and diversity. Visitors to the website will see imagery representative of the Houston community that people can connect with. People of all demographics are shown in a variety of interactions, reflecting that the YMCA of Greater Houston is more than a place, it is a purpose. Further enhancements to the website will continue in Q2.
The YMCA of Greater Houston is eagerly looking to continue driving change and helping the community prevent swim drownings, access to summer camps and do more as a family in Q2. The organization will also launch its ‘Be the Change’ philanthropic campaign to secure $25 million in community support. The campaign is more than raising money; it is about the life changing impact the YMCA provides to the community. Thanks to generous donors, the Y will be able to fulfill this mission through low-cost programs and direct financial assistance for families in need. One hundred percent of all dollars donated are invested into programs serving children and families in the Houston community.