CHICAGO, (June 20, 2023) — YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), the national resource office for the 2,600+ YMCAs across the country, is pleased to announce the launch of a $1.9 million multi-year national partnership with MissionSquare Foundation. This partnership will provide support to implement the Youth and Government ® program in 10 states and the District of Columbia, helping shape the next generation of thoughtful, committed and active citizens.
Since 1936, YMCA Youth and Government has offered students across the country the opportunity to serve their schools, communities, states and nation through model government, civic engagement, advocacy, leadership and character development, service-learning and more to amplify youth voice and strengthen youth civic health.
MissionSquare Foundation, launched in 2022, is focused on strengthening communities by supporting the long-term wellbeing of youth. A core component of the Foundation’s efforts includes cultivating civic-mindedness, critical thinking and leadership skills in future leaders.
Partnering with the Y establishes a strong alignment of both organizations’ values, specifically through the YMCA Youth and Government program. Engaging the next generation in civic programming gives youth a voice in helping to solve community challenges, ensures that our local communities can thrive and serves as a critical step towards a long-term solution for improving our civic discourse.
MissionSquare Foundation was the sponsor of this year’s Youth Governors Conference, supporting student participation and conference execution. They also awarded the inaugural MissionSquare Bridgebuilder Award to Arushi Bansal and Conner Brumley of Kentucky, whose community project of Common Ground in the Commonwealth, a podcast series focused on encouraging and supporting students of diverse political viewpoints to have productive conversations regarding pressing issues, was chosen to be rolled out in their community. This collaborative project’s goal is to help empower younger generations to find common ground in their beliefs regardless of political views, and to promote civic engagement and constructive discourse. Bansal and Brumley will receive a $5,000 implementation award from MissionSquare Foundation. MissionSquare Foundation’s support for this year’s Youth Governors Conference and Bridgebuilder Award brings its overall partnership commitment to over $2 million.
Through this partnership, MissionSquare Foundation is helping close the youth civic engagement gap by connecting students to opportunities that strengthen the civic health of communities. This support increases student access to the YMCA Youth and Government program in communities nationwide. Funding will support expanding the program into schools and communities that don't currently have one, and help programs reach previously unengaged students. In this first year of the partnership, MissionSquare Foundation will provide funding to Ys in the following locations:
California: YMCA of Greater Long Beach
Colorado: YMCA of Pueblo
District of Columbia: YMCA of Metropolitan Washington
Florida: YMCA of the Treasure Coast
Illinois: YMCA of Rock River Valley
Maryland: YMCA of Frederick County
Missouri: Gateway Region YMCA
North Carolina: YMCA of Northwest North Carolina
Oregon: YMCA of Grants Pass Oregon
Virginia: Bedford Family YMCA, Piedmont Family YMCA and YMCA at Virginia Tech
Washington: South Sound YMCA
“Through programs like Youth and Government, the Y empowers young people to reach their full potential as engaged citizens and community leaders,” said Suzanne McCormick, President and CEO of Y-USA. “We are grateful to MissionSquare Foundation for its generous support of the Y and its partnership in developing leaders who are civic-minded and prepared to work collaboratively toward solutions to challenges facing communities, today and in the future.”
“We are thrilled to partner with Y-USA to expand access to their Youth and Government program at a time when civic engagement has never been more important,” said Deanna Santana, Acting CEO and President of MissionSquare Retirement. “As an organization rooted in serving those who serve our communities, we are invigorated by the opportunity to help give our youth the resources, tools and knowledge they need to tackle community challenges. Today more than ever, it is critical that our youth learn to organize and mobilize for their interests. Our children are the future and supporting their civic engagement is foundational to a strong democracy.”
About the Y
Driven by its founding mission, the Y has served as a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community for more than 175 years. The Y empowers everyone, no matter who they are or where they’re from, by ensuring access to resources, relationships, and opportunities for all to learn, grow and thrive. By bringing together people from different backgrounds, perspectives and generations, the Y’s goal is to improve overall health and well-being, ignite youth empowerment and demonstrate the importance of connections in and across 10,000 communities nationwide. Learn more at ymca.org.
About MissionSquare Foundation
The MissionSquare Foundation, launched in 2022 through an initial $20 million grant from MissionSquare Retirement, seeks to make a meaningful impact in our communities by focusing on the long-term well-being of youth. Our core initiatives focus on civic mindedness, financial capabilities, critical thinking and leadership development skills. We believe that cultivating these lifelong skills in our next generation supports strong, sustainable and thriving communities.