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YMCA of the USA Expands Partnership with MissionSquare Foundation to Strengthen Youth Civic Engagement, Give Future Leaders a Voice

June 18, 2024

YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), the national resource office for the 2,600+ YMCAs across the country, is pleased to announce the second year of the $2 million multi-year national partnership with MissionSquare Foundation. This partnership is providing support to implement the Youth and Government® program in 13 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 the Youth Governors Conference for the second year in a row, supporting student participation and conference execution. They also awarded the 2024 MissionSquare Bridgebuilder Award to Anna Castro Spratt of South Carolina, whose community project, “It Starts with Us,” will help build bridges between communities and different perspectives through organized youth-focused conversations. “It Starts with Us” will consist of a series of monthly, mediated conversations where young people can discuss topics they care about. Castro Spratt 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 programs in communities across the country. 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 second year of the partnership, MissionSquare Foundation has provided funding to these 11 returning local Y associations and their corresponding state programs:

  • 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: Virginia Alliance of YMCAs
  • Washington: South Sound YMCA

Six new local Y associations will be awarded and announced in July in addition to the following three new state programs:

  • New Hampshire: The Granite YMCA
  • Pennsylvania: State YMCA of Pennsylvania, Inc.
  • Wisconsin: YMCA of the Fox Cities, Inc.

“Through Youth and Government, the Y helps young people realize their potential as engaged citizens and leaders in their communities,” said Suzanne McCormick, President and CEO of Y-USA. “We greatly appreciate the ongoing support of MissionSquare Foundation, which enables us to expand the reach of Youth and Government and develop even more civic-minded leaders who are prepared to tackle community challenges today and in the future.”

“We are excited to continue to collaborate with Y-USA to expand the reach of their Youth and Government program, especially now when civic participation is crucial,” said Deanna J. Santana, Acting CEO and President of MissionSquare Retirement. “Public service roles are vital to promote a civic life which is essential to our communities. Our mission to support those who serve our communities aligns effortlessly with this work, and we are energized by the chance to continue to provide young people with the skills, expertise, and confidence needed to address community issues, now and in the future.”

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

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.

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