The Y is made up of diverse people working side by side to strengthen our communities. Together, we work to ensure everyone -- of any income, faith, ability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, ethnicity, national origin, cultural background or other unique personal characteristics -- has the opportunity to live life to its fullest. We share the values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility, which are the foundation for everything we do.
Click here to read a letter from the YMCA of Greater Hartford's CEO, Harold Sparrow, on the importance of inclusion and diversity to our organization.
Black History Month is a time for recognizing the central role that Black Americans and African Americans have played in our country’s history. We’re proud to honor, celebrate and remember the achievements and contributions of Black and African American people and how they have richly shaped our country, including the YMCA.
ROOTS IN THE Y
A meeting at a YMCA in Chicago laid the foundation for Black History Month. In 1926, historian and professor Carter G. Woodson established "Negro History Week". A University of Chicago alumnus, Woodson was inspired by a 50th anniversary emancipation celebration he attended in Chicago in 1915. He later gathered a small group and met at the Wabash YMCA in Chicago to form the "Association for the Study of Negro Life and History". This led to the creation of "Negro History and Literature Week", renamed "Negro Achievement Week", and later "Negro History Week". It became the month long celebration known as Black History Month in 1976.
FIRST YMCA FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS
One of the first YMCAs was also one of the first Black and African American organizations in our country. In 1853 in our nation’s capital, the first YMCA for Black Americans and African Americans was founded by Anthony Bowen, a freed slave.
A HERO LEARNS TO SWIM AT THE Y
Martin Luther King Jr. learned how to swim at the YMCA in Atlanta when he was a young man. Take a look at this video put together by YUSA for the YMCA’s 150-year celebration.
FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN CEO OF THE YMCA
Kevin Washington is the first African American President and CEO of the YMCA of the United States. He is a 38-year YMCA professional and has been an advocate and champion for equity and diversity throughout his career. Listen to his story in his own words.
FIRST LADY ANNOUNCES 'LET'S MOVE' AT THE Y
In 2010, as first lady, Michelle Obama launched the pillars of her “Let’s Move” campaign against childhood obesity at the Alexandria YMCA, a branch of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. This helped position the Y as an important ally in preventing chronic disease throughout the nation.
served over 118,000 children and families in more than 20 different communities across Connecticut
raised over $1,375,000 in annual campaign donations in 2015 to support children, families and adults participating in YMCA programs.
provided scholarships to 1,500 families to attend camp who otherwise couldn’t afford to send their kids to summer enrichment programs in 2016.
impacts 2,600 children in our childcare program, the largest provider of quality care in CT.
The YMCA of Greater Hartford recognizes that being an equal opportunity employer makes us stronger. YMCA staff and volunteers are committed to celebrating diversity, practicing inclusion, and embracing a global mindset, and we are dedicated to the equity of our team.
We hire staff of all backgrounds and abilities, and we provide employees with training and professional development opportunities.
Employee Resource Groups
The Y supports and encourages employees to form and run employee resource groups, like BYLD (Building YMCA Leadership Development) and the Women’s Leadership Forum. Wherever there is a need to bring together like-minded people to develop their capacity, employees can organize these resource groups with the help of the YMCA’s leadership staff.
Staff Development Opportunities
Y staff have access to Y-USA Training and Certifications through an online exchange of resources and the Learning and Career Development Center.
Staff and volunteers understand that being a part of the Y means being a part of a community that values giving back.
YMCA branches, employee resource groups, and the entire association are dedicated to building the cultural competencies of its staff, volunteers, and members.
Staff have the opportunity to network within the Y through AYP (Association for YMCA Professionals), through a multitude of conferences like EMLE (Emerging Multicultural Leaders Experience) and workshops, and even by receiving a free membership to HYPE (Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs).
BYLD is hosting a mentoring program for staff, similar to a Bridging the Gap program that we’ve run in the past, so that our part-time staff have the chance to learn from our seasoned leaders.
SOME OF OUR PROGRAMS THAT SUPPORT DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
YMCA programs are open to all, and our staff are trained to give children and families the best experience possible, whether in swim, camp, wellness, childcare or one of our many other programs. No matter where your family comes from or what your abilities are, the Y is for you.
The YMCA of Greater Hartford is bringing a very successful Diabetes Prevention Program to our association. Diabetes is an invisible disease, meaning you can’t tell someone has it by looking at them. These illnesses can often go overlooked. The Y is here to help!
A grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is helping our Downtown and East Hartford YMCAs teach 3rd graders how to swim at no cost to their families—an important water safety program. The YMCA helps teach hundreds of children to swim every year, which makes a large impact considering that drowning is a leading cause of death among young children from low-income communities.
The Y-TIP program, one of our many teen programs, provides a support system that helps under-served teens succeed in school and overcome cultural barriers and challenges, including involvement in gangs, violence, drugs, and other harmful and self-destructive influences.
Aqua Buddies is an adaptive swim lesson program specially modified for children ages 5-10 years old that have behavioral, developmental, or physical. This class is lead by ABA certified staff and volunteers. Lessons include water acclimation, instruction on floating, stroke development, as well as water safety. Participants will have the opportunity to improve core strength, coordination, range of motion as well as social behavior while having fun in the pool. Check back for Fall classes!
Here are just a few more YMCA programs that reach out to people of different ages, heritages, faiths, abilities, and more diversifying characteristics: Reach and Rise Mentoring Program