Who We Are
The YMCA is a safe place that nurtures and strengthens families and communities. Our buildings are focal points, but our programs are our tools for building community. Our programs are not confined to a particular location. We believe our commitment to our neighbors extend beyond our walls and into communities. Thus, Y without walls.
We believe every child, family and community deserves access to quality YMCA programming. We also know that every community has valuable contributions from the existing residents and providers. Our goal is to partner, collaborate, support and approach this work with a desire to build capacity within the communities we serve and believe in.
Our Communities' Stories
Ensuring that children have access to quality early experiences and affordable early childhood programs has been proven to help children prepare for school and succeed in later life. While the Linden community has more than 31 licensed child care programs, only a small percentage have earned a rating in Ohio’s 5-star quality rating and improvement system, Step Up to Quality (SUTQ). In fact, only a handful of centers and no family child care (FCC) homes are rated at the 3-star level or above deemed to represent high quality.
There is a critical need to expand youth development programming in the Linden area. Identified as a priority neighborhood by the City of Columbus in 2016, a substantial proportion of families live below the poverty line. Research shows that this neighborhood has an income lower than 94.8% of U.S. neighborhoods. With 68.5% of the children here below the federal poverty line, this neighborhood has a higher rate of childhood poverty than 97.6% of U.S. neighborhoods. The statistics related to the high school graduation rate are troubling and reveal the fact that an alarming 43% of area students drop out of high school for a range of reasons.
Linden is a community of tremendous promise and potential. Generations of neighborhood individuals, residents, and community leaders have worked to ensure that youth and families do not just survive, but also have the chance to thrive. This depth of community resiliency, however, is combating historic racial disparities, severe economic disadvantage, and an articulated sense of disconnection. The YMCA believes that the challenges and needs of the youth and families in Linden represent the challenges and needs of all of us. A committed partner in the collective response, the YMCA seeks to support the capacity building efforts taking place within Linden.
What’s Happening Now
Early Childhood Development and Child Care Provider Infrastructure Building:
- Beginning in July 2017, First Children’s Finance (FCF) will provide business leadership cohorts to targeted ECE businesses in Linden. These cohorts will be presented in two cohorts, one to child care centers and the other a family child care. Business leadership cohort participants meet face-to-face 4 times to receive training in business operation and Linden Project financial management.
- In addition to their peer learning cohort meetings, participants also meet privately with FCF staff to complete a thorough financial analysis and receive coaching and consultation regarding business improvements and strategic goals. These activities will be held between July 2017 and November 2017.
- Deepening its partnership with Columbus Recreation and Parks Department and supporting a collective, community approach, the YMCA provided staffing support and cultural enrichment programming as part of the 8 week summer camp sessions run out of Linden and Douglas Community Recreation Centers.
- Beginning in June of 2017, the YMCA operated a youth sports program at St. Stephen's Community House. YMCA staff and St. Stephen’s volunteers ran dance and soccer programing from 4-6pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and provided drop-in style open gym from 4-6pm on Wednesdays. The comprehensive youth sports programming created safe spaces for youth and allowed for proactive youth intervention based on the successful YMCA model. The 8 week session served more than 40 Linden youth.
- A partner in the 2017 St. Stephen’s community canvassing in the Linden community, the YMCA directed funding and volunteers to the May 20th event, also helping to developing the questionnaire in support of enhanced data collection and need analysis.
- Leveraging the recently awarded ServeOhio grant, the YMCA will recruit, train, and fund 15 AmeriCorps members from within the Linden community. The work of these CityCorps members will focus on:
- Beautification efforts in Linden
- Ensuring safer pathways to schools
- Facilitating volunteer day activities for the Linden community
- Supporting the collective programs within Linden