Since the late 1800s, our Y community has been involved in international work. We are part of the international YMCA network—a powerful alliance dedicated to strengthening our global community of 46 million members in 124 countries.

Because of this global reach, we are able to respond to trends in migration, health, economic livelihood and education that are reshaping our local communities.


Through formal partnerships, we support projects monetarily and provide human resources to help support their infrastructure and programming efforts for YMCAs in:

  • Ghana (since 2002)
  • Liberia (since 2009)
  • South Africa (since 2006)

These efforts are part of a Global Operating Plan that includes Ys around the world to help ensure the sustainability of Ys in Africa.

Additionally, the Emma B. Howe Y in Coon Rapids has partnered with the Y in Durban, South Africa, since 2009. The Coon Rapids Y’s Diversity Committee has created a kit that includes educational materials and activities to increase global awareness and a computer to facilitate online video conferences with our friends at the Durban Y. The online video conferences allow us to share a “face-to-face” cultural experience.


Since 1984, our YMCAs have exchanged visits and ideas with the Lüdenscheid Area YMCA.

  • Our German partners excel in outreach and we’ve been able to bring that practice to our programs locally through program delivery at schools, Section 8 housing or community centers.
  • Our volunteers have trained German staff on the Y’s fundraising model and helped institute systems and processes in their Ys.

Y Camps exchanges

Y Camps have a proud tradition of welcoming international staff and campers from around the world.

  • Each summer, individuals come from countries such as France, Switzerland, Colombia, England, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, India, Singapore, and China. 
  • Participants and staff have an opportunity to share their culture and provide a diverse perspective that enhances the camp experience for all.