Program areas at YMCA of Greater Erie
EARLY LEARNING & SCHOOL-AGE ENRICHMENT Our YMCA believes that all kids have potential. We cultivate the values and skills that lead to positive behaviors, better health, and educational achievement. Woven into the fabric of the YMCA mission is a commitment to strengthening families. YMCA child care programs relieve the burden of balancing work and families and make it more possible for parents of children in our care to remain gainfully employed, knowing their children are thriving in a safe, developmentally sound environment that offers a range of experiences that enrich social-emotional, cognitive and physical growth. In 2022, the Y expanded its implementation of Conscious Discipline, a classroom management approach which provides solutions for social and emotional learning and self-regulation. The program is intended to help adults regulate themselves enough to support children who are also learning how to regulate. Conscious Discipline is trauma-informed and based on brain research and evidence and its tactics focus on the adult first, and the child second. Additionally, the Y has created sensory spaces which supports our approach to inclusive care. Inclusion means providing appropriate accommodation and support so that each child can participate to the fullest of his or her developmental abilities. A sensory space can help children who feel overwhelmed by giving children a chance to choose a limited type of sensory stimulation that makes them feel more in control. The Y created a Family Resources page within its website as a "one-stop-shop" for resources on parenting, early intervention and behavioral supports etc. Expenses include subsidies and reduced fees that make participation possible for more than 60% of the children we engage. Our YMCA provides reduced fees for child care services. In 2022, 48,600 was awarded to 45 children to defray their fees this year, and continue to accept children through the state subsidy program. In addition, we provide aid to families who need help due to family violence, substance abuse, poverty, mental health, etc. We also provide free family fun events to promote healthy family interactions and enrich relationships between parents and children enrolled in our program. Our high-quality licensed child care promotes educational, emotional, physical, and social growth for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children from diverse backgrounds. We participate in the Keystone STARS Quality Initiative at all 13 licensed child care locations. The YMCA continues to be a leader in early care and education. In 2022, Pennsylvania tax credit donations provided preschool education credits of $17,800 to 13 children. Last year, over 1,200 participants were served in licensed child care. PRE-K COUNTS Our Y is committed to providing educational equity to those most at risk for success. The YMCA of Greater Erie partnered with the State of Pennsylvania to offer free preschool to low-income children through the State's Pre-K Counts program. Pre-K Counts is an initiative created to build and strengthen pre-kindergarten partnerships in communities so that each community can create a self-sustaining system for providing high-quality early learning experiences to children in all settings. This program sponsored approximately 203 children in 2022. SUMMER CAMP When school lets out for summer, kids who don't continue to read, learn, and keep their minds and bodies active can fall behind their classmates that do. Some parents just don't have the knowledge/resources to keep their kids engaged and productive all summer long. Many families can't afford to enroll their children in a structured summer program. As a solution, the Y offers day camps that go far beyond the typical camp experience. Our camp programs are packed with physical and educational activities, on-site field trips, character building, arts/crafts, group games, and more. Campers learn the importance of values and are encouraged to exhibit them in their actions. The Y offers scholarships so that all children have the opportunity to enjoy this enriching experience. In 2022, the Y invested in KidSpot, the Y's BRAND new summer curriculum. It is chock full of daily themes that include art and group games specific to the themes. Theme examples are Tic-Tac-Trouble, Up in the Air, Robin Hood, Under the Sea, and CSI Mystery. There also are specialty games for campers that extend their experience with us after 4 p.m. Each theme has a camp inspired story and rainy-day activities. COMMUNITY SCHOOL The YMCA of Greater Erie is the lead non-profit partner at Harding Elementary School in collaboration with the United Way of Erie County. COMMUNITY RECREATION The YMCA believes in giving back and supporting our neighbors through collaboration with the City of Erie. We operate the City's Summer Parks & Recreation program in the heart of downtown neighborhoods providing recreation, mentoring, and enrichment programming to more than 400 youth aged 6-18. In addition, we collaborate with the Housing Authority of the City of Erie to operate Kids Clubs - a year-round educational and recreational program for youth residing in public housing. Participants in Kids Clubs are from low-income households living in or near subsidized housing and are given opportunities to participate in YMCA programs including sports, incentive award programs for good behavior, track and field, golf, and special field trips. Collaborations with an area medical hospital, girl scouts and boy scouts, 4-h, and local drug prevention agencies enhance the program opportunities for youth. Free meals and snacks are also provided through Kids Clubs during the school year. Free swimming lessons are offered at Rodger Young Park which is located directly across the street from a public housing neighborhood. ITCS The Y is committed to serve 44 Infants and Toddlers through the Pennsylvania Infant Toddler Contracted Slots (ITCS) expansion funding opportunity which provides tuition for qualifying families. This program serves children 6 weeks to 36 months providing a continuity of high-quality care while building a strong transition from infant-toddler to pre-kindergarten classrooms. STARS Y programs are licensed by the Office of Child Development, PA Department of Public Welfare and meet YMCA of the USA Quality Check Standards. Like a hotel rating system, Y programs are accredited by the Pennsylvania Keystone STARS program. That's important to you as a parent because you can be sure your kids are thriving in the highest quality learning environment with qualified, certified teachers who annually seek continuing education and certifications in CPR/First Aid, Water Safety, Fire Safety & Child Development. All Y programs are either Keystone 3 or 4 accredited. Each Stars designation has its own research-based performance standards. These standards measure areas of childcare and education. What you can expect from the quality rating is: * Professional development and training for our teachers; half to two-thirds of the staff have completed or are enrolled in credentials or degrees * Literacy activities including reading, story-telling and encouraging written and verbal communication * Parent and community resources are used effectively in the quality delivery of the program * Business, organizational and staff compensation practices are maximized * A review of the program center by a nationally recognized environment rating scale that indicates a high-quality score Power Scholars/DiscoverY The Y partners with local school districts to administer evidence-based achievement gap programs afterschool and during the summer. Partnering schools identify the most academically at-risk children through school assessments to participate in the intensive program. The programs focus on academic gains in literacy and math and extend learning through activity-based enrichment such as STEM, STEAM, arts etc. In 2022, 23 children participated in Power Scholars Academy at Elk Valley Elementary School and 45 children participated in DiscoverY at Pfeiffer Burleigh Elementary School.
VOLUNTEERS In 2022 We had over 330 volunteers generate over 8,300 hours of volunteer service to the Y and other local nonprofits, totaling more than $108,000. We have been called on by peer Ys and other nonprofits to help them in their volunteer program evolution and are looked to by local nonprofits as an expert in volunteer management. FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE YMCA programs are offered at affordable fees for the community at large, with reasonable accommodations for those with special needs, and with financial assistance available for those who cannot afford the full fee. The YMCA provided more than $598,000 in financial assistance and community outreach programs for more than 5,000 children, teens, families, and seniors to help them live happier, healthier lives. MEALS FOR KIDS The YMCA of Greater Erie provides 6,100 free summer meals to kids in partnership with community sites throughout Erie County. Meals are offered in partnership with local school districts, community centers, and churches - in identified underserved neighborhoods. Meals are bundled and distributed on a rotational basis. Meals adhere to nutrition standards outlined in Y-USA's Healthy Eating & Physical Activity Standards. A 72-passenger renovated school bus serves as a mobile meals site taking freshly prepared meals directly into identified food deserts. In addition, we provide healthy snacks and meals to all children in our licensed childcare program and at-risk programs during the school year. 66% of the children we serve are at 185% of poverty or below. We have adopted, along with Y-USA, HEPA (healthy eating and physical activity) standards at all locations. In 2022, the Y served more than 195,000 healthy meals and snacks which introduced new foods and influenced food choice and education. ERIE COUNTY RE-ENTRY ALLIANCE In partnership with UnifiedErie and local, state, and federal law enforcement, the YMCA of Greater Erie provides re-entry services for those individuals who are re-entering civilian life. These services include securing employment, housing, and mental/physical health. TEEN CENTER The YMCA Teen Center is a youth development program that focuses on providing year-round activities for low-income youth 12-18 years of age. The program's goal is to develop teens into contributing adult members of the Erie community. Programs concentrate on character development, societal issues, academics, arts/self-expression, career exploration, and post-secondary readiness. These activities promote healthy behaviors that are linked to success in the areas of education, employment, and health. In 2022, more than 200 teens were empowered to reach their full potential through mentorship, creative expression, academic enrichment, and conflict resolution. A partnership with local grocers and culinary professionals, led to the development of a Teaching Kitchen. A grant of $25,000 completed an installation of a culinary kitchen. Teens are learning independence and life skills as well as exploring careers in culinary arts, food management, grocery and supply chain. Mercyhurst University partners with the Y for a tower garden project where the teens grow their own leafy produce such as greens and herbs. These products are used in recipes taught through the Teaching Kitchen program. A grant from the Erie Yacht Club exposed kids to maritime studies at the Bayfront Center for Maritime Studies. The students learned hands-on skills for boat building and explored Erie's waterways. The boat building lessons reinforced math and teamwork.
HEALTH & WELL-BEING Our Y is committed to improving the health of our community. We strive to bring families closer together, encourage good health, and foster connections through fitness, sports, fun and shared interests. As a result, 22,000 people in our community are receiving the support, guidance, and resources they need to achieve greater health in spirit, mind, and body. Our programs are designed to help people create realistic goals for self-improvement and emphasize disease prevention through regular exercise, proper nutrition, stress management, and health education. We collaborate with other agencies to provide programs structured specifically for those over 65 years of age, including land and water exercise, as well as an opportunity for social interaction. The Y's virtual platform, Y 360, reaches Y and community members with online classes, workshops, and programs designed to give the viewer additional points of access to the Y and health and wellness resources. In 2022, the Y grew our chronic disease prevention programs to community-based sites and additional offerings. Programs include: diabetes prevention, blood pressure self-monitoring, fall-prevention and tobacco cessation. Funding received from the Pennsylvania Neighborhood Assistance program provided the resources necessary to fully subsidize program costs for those who were income and health eligible. Our aquatic programs start developing physical skills in infancy through parent/child swim class and continue up through our Arthritis aquatics class for seniors; our family swim program gives adults and children shared time in the pool to appreciate one another and promote intergenerational relationships. Through holistic health programs, the Y offers several natural healing therapeutic services in our menu of community programs including energy healing, reiki, qigong, and a community education series tackling topics related to posture, herbs, acupuncture, chronic pain, and others. Many of these programs are adapted for youth and family audiences throughout the year. Our Y continues to emphasize serving populations with special needs including adaptive swimming lessons, movement and strength-building classes for youth and adults, support groups for those living with chronic illness, and youth recreation programs/day camp/afterschool experiences for those in the autism spectrum. A new partnership with Special Olympics Pennsylvania offers SOPA athletes the opportunity to train year-round at the Y at a reduced cost and to train during their active season at no cost. COMMUNITY OUTREACH The Y operated the Rodger Young Community Pool in collaboration with the City of Erie and the Erie Housing Authority, enrolling more than 245 children, various groups serving children aged 6-18.