Thousands of youth entering grades nine through 12 across the metro will have free access to the Y’s health and wellness and youth enrichment programs all summer long.

Minneapolis, MN – The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, will offer free summer memberships for thousands of teens across the Twin Cities.  From June 1 to August 31 youth entering grades nine through 12 can access a free membership to 26 YMCA locations throughout the Twin Cities. 
 
Statistics show that risky behaviors like violence, drinking and drug use increase during the summer when young people’s time is less structured. According to Pew Research Center, only 20 percent of today’s 16 to 17 year-olds hold a summer job, and that rate is even lower among teens of color. Participation rates in camps and similar programs have remained stagnant or fallen in recent years. Teens need a safe place to go in their communities that is flexible, engaging and accessible to all. 

The YMCA is positioned to help bridge this gap in the Twin Cities and ensure that youth of all backgrounds and incomes have access to learning opportunities outside of school. The Y’s locations cut across city, county and school district boundaries. More than 80 percent of Twin Cities teens live within 15 minutes of a YMCA location that offers opportunities for wellness, sports, leadership programs, pathways to part-time jobs at the Y and more. 

“The YMCA Get Summer program is making a real difference in our community by providing a safe space for youth to connect and have fun while learning important lifelong skills,” said Mark Dienhart, president and chief executive officer of the Schulze Family Foundation. “We believe supporting this program offers a truly unique opportunity to engage youth in their neighborhood with educational and enriching experiences with caring mentors and role models.” 

This year the YMCA will increase the number of youth served with up to 400 per location for a total of up to 10,400 youth. There will be more teen specific programming added including:

  • health and wellbeing classes and youth specific fitness challenges using the Y app
  • leadership and character development programs including Leaders Club, Achievers and Youth in Government
  • job readiness workshops and courses designed to prepare youth for employment opportunities in their community and at the Y.

In addition, some teens do not have access to a nutritious meal during the summer.  To meet the need, the program is also offering free meals at 12 Y locations including Blaisdell, Burnsville, Coon Rapids, East St. Paul, Hastings, Maplewood, Midway St. Paul, St. Paul Downtown, Southdale, Mounds View Community Center, New Hope and West St. Paul

“Not many people have escapes, and the Y is a big escape for me,” said Meshe, a 16- year old student from Roseville. “The Y is a place to get my self-image boosted and gives me a chance to be the best me I can be.”

Lisa Roers, a parent from Shoreview said, “Get Summer is great for the community and great for parents to know that our kids have this free opportunity. It’s wonderful.”

“The YMCA is thrilled to partner with the Schulze Family Foundation to provide a safe environment for young people to engage in programs that promote healthy living, build character and leadership, and support success in school and in life,” said Glen Gunderson, president and chief executive officer for the YGTC. “The Y is committed to eliminating barriers to participation so all have the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive during the summer months. This program is possible because of the generous donation from the Schulze family.”

The program is open to all students of all backgrounds and incomes. Youth entering grades nine through 12 can visit any participating Y location, or register online, beginning May 28 to enroll with a valid ID, class schedule or report card and the permission of an adult. Each participating location can accommodate up to 400 participants for over 10,000 teens in 2019. For more information, visit ymcamn.org/getsummer.

About the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation

The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation (RMSFF) was created in 2004 by Best Buy founder, Dick Schulze, as a way to give back to the community where Dick and his family grew up and where he built Best Buy to become the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer. Schulze and his family believe that a good education, a supportive family and a strong work ethic prepare children for a successful future. To support that belief, it supports organizations operating in the areas of human & social services, education, including scholarship awards to graduating students from eligible high schools, and health & medicine.

About the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities

The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities is a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Established 162 years ago, the Ys provide life-strengthening services across the greater Twin Cities metro region, southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin communities. The 29 Y locations and program sites, eight overnight camps, 10 day camps, and more than 90 child care sites engage more than 370,000 men, women and children of all ages, incomes and backgrounds. To learn more about the Y’s mission and work, visit www.ymcamn.org.