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Open Letter from YMCA of the USA to President Biden and Vice President Harris

Open Letter from YMCA of the USA to President Biden and Vice President Harris

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Dear President Biden and Vice President Harris,

On behalf of the nation’s 2,700 YMCAs, we write to congratulate you on becoming the 46th President and 49th Vice President, respectively, in United States history. We hope that wisdom, courage and good health will be yours as you lead our country forward.

We also wish to thank you both for being longtime friends of the Y. The YMCA of Delaware has had a strong relationship with President Biden for years, and YMCA of the USA partnered with the Biden Foundation recently to strengthen the Y’s capacity to welcome, engage and serve the LGBTQ community. Just last year Vice President Harris received the Y’s Congressional Champion Award for advocating for children and families in the Senate—specifically her work on the Family Friendly Schools Act and the Focus on Children Act—and delivered an inspiring message during our national Unlearning Systemic Racism virtual town hall. We also know that YMCAs in the Bay Area always have appreciated the support of Vice President Harris. Many members of your proposed Cabinet and senior teams are friends of the Y as well. We look forward to working with you all to advance policy and funding that support our work to strengthen communities nationwide—as we have with previous administrations. With a presence in 10,000 communities and 22 million members—nearly 8 million of whom are under age 18—the Y has the reach and the relationships needed to create positive and lasting change. We meet people where they are and help them move forward to reach their full potential.

Notably, your administration’s stated top priority of getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control is aligned with the Y’s top legislative priority for 2021: securing much-needed support for nonprofits through new COVID-19 relief legislation, so we all can continue to provide vital services to our communities. As you may be aware, YMCAs rushed to the front lines of our nation’s response to COVID-19 during the early days of the pandemic and have been there ever since. Ys have provided child care for the children of health care workers, first responders and other essential personnel at 1,100 sites; distributed food to the hungry at 1,300 sites; conducted hundreds of thousands of wellness checks on seniors at risk of social isolation; partnered with the Red Cross and other agencies to host thousands of blood drives; provided academic enrichment, physical activities, social-emotional support and technology access at hundreds of sites for young people learning virtually; and even sheltered the homeless. The Y is committed to doing whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to help our communities recover and thrive once again—but we can’t do it alone. We need more support from the federal government.

Other top priorities for the Y include supporting the healthy development of children and their families, preventing chronic disease and reducing health disparities, and promoting safe, welcoming and inclusive communities. We are excited to ramp up discussions with your administration, as well as members of the 117th Congress, about our priorities­—and the Y’s role in helping our nation fully recover from the pandemi­c­—in the weeks and months ahead.

You both have spoken often of your desire to unify our country, saying that there is nothing we cannot accomplish if we work together. Bringing together people from all walks of life is what the Y does best. You have our pledge that we will continue to help people with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives find common ground based on the Y’s core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. We truly are better together.

As you take office, our nation faces many challenges. The Y has used our community-level credibility, national scale and global network to address some of our country’s—and our world’s—most pressing social needs for 175 years. We stand ready to partner with your administration and all people committed to meeting these challenges head on and writing the next great chapter in the American story.

Sincerely,

Pamela Davies, Ph.D. Chair, Board of Directors, Kevin Washington, President and CEO, YMCA of the USA

Friday, January 22, 2021