By connecting young people and their families where they live with community partners and holistic resources, the YMCA helps create a pathway to breaking the cycle of poverty.

A unique approach to breaking the cycle of poverty.

YMCA Neighborhood Centers serve families where they live with a goal to meet critical needs and facilitate a path out of poverty.

Each Neighborhood Center connects formal public institutions, young people, and their families through programs designed to break generational cycles of poverty, working with young people and their parents and guardians. We do this by focusing on supporting and providing for critical needs, education, postsecondary & employment pathways, health & well-being, civic engagement, social capital and economic assets.

The program’s strength comes from its immediate locality to and grounding in the realities experienced by these families, predicated on strong partnerships with affordable housing agencies and local schools, as well as the YMCA’s competence as a multi-agency convener. Residents at each location leverage these resources to customize their local program by describing community assets and needs. 

Typically, each Center serves k-12 students and their families year-round. The following elements comprise common elements of this program design:

  • Before, during & after school support for grades k-6 (school-year) along with unique experiential opportunities like YMCA camping
  • Career pathways, leadership development, life skills, and civic engagement for grades 6-12
  • Adult and community programs, such as ESL, ECFE, and others
  • Basic needs, such as free meals, free water safety classes, resource support, and more for all ages

Population Served

196 young people ages 4-18 and their families in 2019-20 at 3 Centers

  • 79% are youth of color
  • 96% are low-income
  • 100% of children in grades k-6 participated in our free summer lunch program


  • For 1 in 4 young people, the YMCA acts as the primary connection between the school and the parent
  • 89% of young people participated regularly in daily programming
  • We engaged 1.6 family members for every young person through a formal interaction
  • 67% improved healthful habits related to nutrition, eating and physical activity

For more information, contact:

Kate Whitby
Senior Program Director

Donate School Supplies

In partnership with the City of Maplewood, the YMCA is collecting donations for school supplies to make sure that each young person in our Maplewood community has the resources that they need to learn, grow, and thrive.

Donate School Supplies

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