The nation's 2,594 YMCAs serve more than 20.1 million people each year, uniting men, women and children of all ages, faiths, backgrounds, abilities, and income levels.
From urban areas to small towns, YMCAs are at the heart of community life in the United States: 42 million families and 72 million households are located within three miles of a YMCA. In fact, more Americans belong to a YMCA than live in the five largest U.S. cities.
Father's Day was started at a YMCA in 1909.
Basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith at a YMCA, the only major sport to have originated entirely in the United States. Jewish basketball players, denied entry to other sports, picked up the game at YMCAs and became stars in the professional leagues. Click here to learn the original rules of basketball.
The YMCA invented volleyball and racquetball and pioneered camping, physical fitness and swimming lessons.
Anthony Bowen, a former slave and the first black employee in the US Paten Office, established the first YMCA to serve the African-American community in his Washington, DC home in 1853.
The YMCA helped found the USO, Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls.
During World War I, the YMCA set up 4,000 huts for recreation and religious services and raised more than $235 million – equivalent to $4.3 billion today – for relief work. This was a time that women became forefront in the YMCA movement.
During World War II, YMCA prisoner-of-war work took on massive proportions, serving 6 million service men held in 36 foreign nations and several thousand German and Italian POWs held in the United States.
During the 1960s, many black YMCAs became meeting places and rallying points for the Civil Rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Andrew Young often swam with their families while home from their obligations to the freedom movement.
Together YMCAs are the nation's largest provider of child care. YMCAs operate nearly 10,000 child care sites across the country, providing high-quality and affordable care to more than 500,000 children. Ys give financial assistance to 20 percent of families in their child care programs.
The YMCA was first launched in London, England in 1844.
Collectively, YMCAs are the largest operator of swimming pools in the world.
YMCAs collectively represent the largest collaborative membership organization in the country.
Adults 65 and older are the fastest growing category of YMCA membership.
The year 2006 marked the 100th anniversary of the first swim lessons offered by the YMCA.
Learn more about the YMCA’s history at http://www.ymca.net/history/.