Find Your Fit
After a national announcement in December that named YMCA of Greater Charlotte among a distinguished list of organizations nationwide to receive a gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the YMCA announced today details surrounding what the organization is calling a “transformational” gift.
Scott gifted the YMCA of Greater Charlotte with $18 million, a surprise contribution at the end of the most difficult year in the organization’s history. The donation is the largest gift the organization has ever received.
“Last year, as we quickly realized that COVID-19 was going to be a long-term crisis and we saw our revenues decline by $40 million, we knew we would need to be a different organization on the other side of the pandemic, with an evolved business model, and focused priorities,” said Todd Tibbits, president and CEO of YMCA of Greater Charlotte. “Ms. Scott’s gift allows us to put those plans in motion, and in a bigger way than we had originally anticipated.”
Scott’s representatives shared with YMCA leadership that the Charlotte Y’s priorities align with her values: racial equity, upward mobility, gender equity and pandemic response. Considering the Y’s existing plans and Scott’s request, a strategy and community investment task force made up of community leader Y volunteers has recommended the transformational funds be used with a focus on breaking the cycle of poverty through health equity initiatives and youth and teen opportunity.
“Yesterday the Y’s board unanimously adopted the task force’s recommendations to support our community where the needs are greatest,” said Theresa Drew, board chair of YMCA of Greater Charlotte. “I’m excited to see the Y team move forward with the recommendations, and I’m encouraged by Ms. Scott’s call for continued support for the organizations she’s chosen. We have a tremendous amount of important work ahead, and we cannot do it alone.”
The Y’s health equity initiatives will address issues surrounding access in underserved communities. Plans include increasing access to healthy food and nutrition education, empowering families and individuals to eat healthy, increasing access to care and mental health services, and expanding chronic disease prevention services.
Youth and teen opportunity initiatives will specifically focus on underserved neighborhoods. Building on the ongoing generous support of annual donors, along with the success of the Y’s existing summer programs for youth and teens, combined with the boost that programming received last summer through funding from the City of Charlotte, the Y is primed to further amplify its offerings, service and access to youth and teens who need it most.
In service to this work, through community partnerships with a common vision for health equity and upward mobility, the Y plans to transform some of its existing locations into health equity campuses, where community members will have equitable access to resources and opportunities designed to promote overall health and well-being. While the financial impact of the pandemic has significantly impacted the YMCA and there is still long-term uncertainty, this gift is a catalyst that allows the organization to make several long-standing plans a reality and allows the Y to amplify and grow its resources in the communities it currently serves, with an initial focus on the West Boulevard and Beatties Ford corridors.
“This is not a ‘one-and-done’ project – this is the beginning of an exciting transformation for our organization, and one that will require strategic partnerships and philanthropic investment to sustain this bold and catalytic vision in the years to come,” said Tibbits. “We come into this work with a deep understanding that this is what our community needs and what our YMCA is called to be. We have always been much more than a ‘gym and swim’ and now we can elevate our community work more than ever before.”
COVID-19 & YMCA of Greater Charlotte
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020 the Y suspended all programs and access to its branches and camps. The Y immediately furloughed much of its team (approximately 240 full-time team members and 3,500 part-time team members), and subsequently has realized a 32 percent reduction of its full-time team, including several leadership positions. Throughout the pandemic, the Y has prioritized serving the community – free childcare for essential healthcare workers, collecting PPE, serving as COVID-19 testing sites, distributing groceries to neighbors in need, and implementing strict safety protocols to keep members safe as they return to the gym based on N.C. re-opening mandates and restrictions. In 2020, the Y experienced a revenue loss of approximately 40 percent.
About the YMCA of Greater Charlotte
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The YMCA of Greater Charlotte, comprised of 19 membership locations and two overnight camps, engages approximately 274,000 men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve thenation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Deeply rooted in the community for nearly 150 years, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. www.ymcacharlotte.org
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