Bold questions. Clear answers.
YWCA Dayton is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all — and we know you have questions about what that means and why it matters.
YWCA and YMCA have no corporate connection at the national level. They are separately incorporated nonprofits, and always have been. There have been/are some joint YM/YWCAs in a few communities, but our organizations are not related.
YWCA and YMCA have different missions. YMCA’s mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.
YWCA and YMCA have different histories. YMCA began in 1844 as an organization meant to “meet the practical and spiritual needs of young men flocking to London during the Industrial Revolution.” Inspired by the stories of YMCA in England, the first U.S. YMCA was formed in Boston in 1851.
The first YWCA was formed in New York City in 1858 as the Ladies Christian Association. The full name, YWCA, was first used in Boston in 1866. (YWCA Dayton was founded four years later as the Women’s Christian Association.)
What YWCA and YMCA have in common:
- Both do a lot of good in their communities.
- Both provide quality services and meet community needs
- Both serve low-income families and high-need communities.
- Both have rich histories and bright futures.
No. “The Y” is officially trademarked language of the National Council of Young Men’s Christian Associations of the United States of America (YMCA).
You can call us YWCA Dayton, YWCA, YW, or Y-Dub.
In the early years of YWCA’s movement, it was a “Christian sisterhood” that drove our work. Thus, our founding name was Women’s Christian Association, and then Young Women’s Christian Association as we moved to ensure women and girls across the age spectrum had their needs met and voices heard.
Today, YWCA is a word, not an acronym. Our work is driven by a commitment to intersectional gender equity, no matter someone’s religion. Because of that, in December 2015, our corporate name was officially changed from Young Women’s Christian Association of the United States of America Inc. to YWCA USA Inc. to be more reflective of our organization’s inclusive nature.
Here in Ohio, we officially followed suit in 2018 with a legal name change from Young Women’s Christian Association of Dayton, Ohio, Inc. to YWCA Dayton.
In some ways. While our mission of “elevating women in our midst” has never wavered, our programs and services have adapted to meet our community’s most pressing needs during the past 14+ decades.
For example: When our current central building was built in 1913, it included a swimming pool to provide a recreational space in an era when a community pool — and especially one that allowed women and girls — wasn’t available. By the 1990s, public swimming was commonplace. When our child care services began in the 1950s, there were no options for working mothers within a 10-mile radius; but, by 2015, there were multiple high-quality centers in the greater Dayton area.
Providing housing and shelter for women has been a core program during our entire 148-year history. From our Widows’ Home in the 1870s to room rentals for young professionals in the 1920s to our domestic violence shelters and Permanent Supportive Housing units today, ensuring women have access to a safe, affordable place to call home is a hallmark of YWCA Dayton service delivery.