Investing in our people, programs, and places
When author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott selected the Y as one of 384 organizations receiving a philanthropic gift at the end of 2020, it was seen as a strong affirmation of our work to strengthen youth, families, and communities. Ms. Scott’s intention was to support “organizations with high potential for impact,” including those who work to “address long-term systemic inequities that have been deepened by the (COVID-19) crisis.” Racial and gender equity, upward mobility, and pandemic response were among her top priorities.
Ms. Scott gifted the Y $18 million, which will help to reinforce the operational sustainability of the Association’s facilities and programs and allow us to continue to impact the lives of approximately 200,000 Chicagoland youth and families a year.
In 2021, that work began. Under the new leadership of President & CEO Dorri McWhorter, a small portion of Ms. Scott’s gift was invested in our people for their tireless work and selflessness throughout the pandemic to deliver the Y’s mission and support those we serve. We have also enhanced the leadership team with a number of new roles to align with our core functions, including community development and equity, academic achievement, and membership innovation so as to better meet the changing needs of Chicagoland’s families.
The Y also invested $5 million to complete 30 key mission-related and capital projects to strengthen and grow its programs and facilities. We enhanced popular mission-focused programs closely aligned with our four mission anchors: academic readiness, character development, fitness and healthy living, and violence prevention. Projects included our Youth Safety and Violence Prevention Initiative, food distribution services in high-need communities, and community sports leagues. We brought on a Behavioral Support Specialist to support the complex mental and emotional needs of youth intensified by the pandemic. And we hired more inclusion aides to support our after school and summer day camp programs, expand the Association’s services for individuals with disabilities, and deepen our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Capital projects also commenced. Interior and exterior facility improvements such as locker room and camp cabin updates, outdoor ice-rink and splash pad renovations, and fitness equipment updates at some centers are already underway. These will visibly enhance the facility where local patronage is already consistently strong, enabling the center to remain a valuable community asset for many more years to come.