Since the late 1800s, our Y community has been involved in international work. We are part of the international YMCA network—a powerful alliance dedicated to strengthening our global community of 46 million members in 124 countries.

Because of this global reach, we are able to respond to trends in migration, health, economic livelihood and education that are reshaping our local communities.


Through formal partnerships, we support projects monetarily and provide human resources to help support their infrastructure and programming efforts for YMCAs in:

  • Ghana (since 2002)
  • Liberia (since 2009)
  • South Africa (since 2006)

These efforts are part of a Global Operating Plan that includes Ys around the world to help ensure the sustainability of Ys in Africa.

Additionally, the Emma B. Howe Y in Coon Rapids has partnered with the Y in Durban, South Africa, since 2009. The Coon Rapids Y’s Diversity Committee has created a kit that includes educational materials and activities to increase global awareness and a computer to facilitate online video conferences with our friends at the Durban Y. The online video conferences allow us to share a “face-to-face” cultural experience.

Bogotá, Colombia

Beginning in 2013 the YMCA of the North has developed a mutually beneficial staff and volunteer exchange relationship with the YMCA of Bogotá in Colombia. Since then staff and volunteer experts in camp programming, social work, youth development, and financial development have travelled in both directions allowing the two organizations to share tools, techniques, perspectives, and best practices.

The YMCA of the Twin Cities periodically facilitates YService International trips to Bogotá. Our “YSI” trips are an incredible opportunity for community members who value the work of the YMCA to immerse themselves in Colombian history and culture, all through the lens of the breathtaking social service work being done by our Colombian partners.

Register now

A limited number of spaces are available.


Since 1984, our YMCAs have exchanged visits and ideas with the Lüdenscheid Area YMCA.

  • Our German partners excel in outreach and we’ve been able to bring that practice to our programs locally through program delivery at schools, Section 8 housing or community centers.
  • Our volunteers have trained German staff on the Y’s fundraising model and helped institute systems and processes in their Ys.

Y Camps exchanges

Y Camps have a proud tradition of welcoming international staff and campers from around the world.

  • Each summer, individuals come from countries such as France, Switzerland, Colombia, England, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, India, Singapore, and China. 
  • Participants and staff have an opportunity to share their culture and provide a diverse perspective that enhances the camp experience for all.