YMCA Collaborates with Community to Improve Educational Equity Through Innovative Programs

Far too many students, especially in underserved groups and communities, lack robust access to the core elements of a quality education. That includes free, quality preschool; high, challenging standards and engaging teaching and leadership in a safe, supportive, and well-resourced school; and an affordable, high-quality college degree. United States Department of Education

Students from the bottom socioeconomic quartile are eight times less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than students from the top socioeconomic quartile (7.4 percent vs. 60 percent). Pell Institute

The racial disparities in Minnesota’s higher education system are among the worst in the nation. People of Color and American Indian and/or Indigenous students are less likely to enroll, remain in and succeed in college. Minnesota Education Equity Partnership

In Minnesota, only 63 percent of college students at four-year colleges will graduate. Minnesota Office of Higher Education

The YMCA of the North, a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, collaborates with the community to improve educational equity because there are significant gaps in the access to experiences and opportunities that young people of different races and backgrounds are or are not given to help them successfully graduate from high school and college.

These gaps further exacerbate community issues such as finding talent to meet workforce shortages, improving inclusivity to combat isolation and building bridges to decrease polarization.

“The YMCA is committed to educational equity and is partnering with schools and universities to change systems through innovative programs designed to reach young people where they are,” said Glen Gunderson, president and CEO of the YMCA of the North. “The Y’s programs ensure young people are receiving additional support, continued learning and opportunities to participate in meaningful activities that can inspire their future goals and help them reach their potential.” 

Gunderson added that the Y team designs programs that are flexible and can meet the needs of specific communities. YMCA education partnerships and enrichment programs are found in Y facilities, schools, apartment complexes, mobile home communities, universities and more, and include the following opportunities:

  • The Y provides college programming through its branch at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities. University YMCA students become uniquely prepared to lead in a global world and be socially responsible leaders at home and in the workforce. Through immersive experiences and intentional reflection, students take on the most pressing challenges facing communities and deepen their sense of themselves in the process.
  • Educational support, including homework help and targeted reading, math or science activities to increase achievement and confidence.
  • Enrichment activities like art, dance, music and more.
  • Career pathways and leadership development opportunities through YMCA Teen Thrive programming.
  • Programs like Beacons in Minneapolis and Richfield or School Success in St. Paul that bring before and after school programs directly to students’ schools, free of charge.
  • The YMCA Best Buy Teen Tech Center in St. Paul, a member of the Clubhouse Network and a collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, addresses the nation’s opportunity gap by offering teens free, year-round, hands-on technology access and education in an after school setting.

Discover how Ebenezer is making a difference by helping young people reach their potential and have a voice – Ebenezer’s Story

Learn how Laila is mentoring young people to ensure they learn skills to succeed in school and life – Laila’s Story 

Because the YMCA is a leading nonprofit committed to helping youth thrive, financial assistance is available to those in need. To learn more about the Y’s programs, please visit ymcamn.org.