YMCA Helps Students Realize Their Potential Through New After School Programs

The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, provides out-of-school time programs and activities that nurture the potential of every child and teen, supporting their social-emotional, cognitive and physical development in order for them to thrive.

In Minnesota, 25 percent of school-age children are alone unsupervised during the hours after school. As families and youth transition into fall and winter, the YMCA offers programs to youth from school-aged to college to keep them active, busy and engaged during out-of-school time. Through a well-rounded approach to youth development, the Y’s programs, such as Beacons, School Success, Best Buy Teen Tech Center and the University YMCA, nurture the potential of youth throughout the school year.

“The YMCA is committed to expanding outside its four walls to reach young people where they are,” said Glen Gunderson, president and CEO of the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities. “Out-of-school time at the Y is an opportunity for families to ensure their kids are receiving additional support, continued learning and opportunities to participate in meaningful activities that can inspire their future goals and help them reach their potential.” 

Gunderson added that the Y team designs programs that are flexible and can meet the needs of specific communities. YMCA out-of-school education and enrichment programs are found in Y facilities, schools, apartment complexes, mobile home communities, universities and more, and include the following opportunities:

  • Educational support, including homework help and targeted reading, math or science activities to increase achievement and confidence
  • Enrichment activities like art, dance, music and more
  • Career pathways and leadership development opportunities through YMCA Teen Thrive programming
  • Programs like Beacons in Minneapolis and Richfield or School Success in St. Paul that bring before and after school programs directly to students’ schools, free of charge
  • The Y provides college programming through its branch at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities. University YMCA students become uniquely prepared to lead in a global world and be socially responsible leaders at home and in the workforce. Through immersive experiences and intentional reflection, students take on the most pressing challenges facing communities and deepen their sense of themselves in the process.

University YMCA and Allina Health Partner on Change to Chill

Thirty percent of college students report that stress has negatively impacted their academics and six percent of college students report that anxiety is the top presenting concern (American Psychological Association)

The University YMCA collaborated with Allina Health on the Change to Chill program, an online, mental well-being resource aimed at helping teens better manage stress and build resiliency through mindfulness, guided imagery, meditation and gratitude practice. Three University YMCA college interns supported 16 teams of youth, two per high school in developing a Chill Zone for their schools. At the same time, Allina Health supported the University YMCA to research and create their own chill zone. The end result was creating a mobile Chillin Zone that could be taken out into the community, on campus and to Hopkins High School. Allina Health is also training the college students to become Change to Chill trainers who will reach out to many young people with the curriculum, supporting healthy living and choices.

YMCA Best Buy Teen Tech Center Opens in Downtown St. Paul

Careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) are projected to grow 17 percent over the next few years, and the Y is helping youth develop strong problem-solving, planning, analysis and decision-making skills to succeed in the classroom and in high-demand careers.

The YMCA Best Buy Teen Tech Center in St. Paul, a member of the Clubhouse Network and a collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, addresses the nation’s opportunity gap by offering teens free, year-round, hands-on technology access and education in an after school setting.  Over the next decade, 77 percent (1.4 million) of all U.S. jobs will require tech skills, yet only 400,000 people will be trained for these jobs.  With community-based job readiness resources on the decline, Best Buy is working with local nonprofit partners like the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities to provide essential access to technology tools and training for low-income youth and families.

YMCA and Richfield Public Schools Expand After School Opportunities

By 2017 Minneapolis high school seniors who participated in Beacons programming were more likely to graduate high school than their similar peers. Of the 152 seniors who attended Beacons at least 30 days during the 2016-2017 school year, 91 percent graduated.

The YMCA and Richfield Public Schools recently received a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant from the Minnesota Department of Education to expand afterschool and summer learning opportunities for Richfield students in grades K-12. The $2.6 million grant will launch a new Beacons Network in Richfield this fall. The Beacons Network is an established and proven collaboration that brings together the nation’s largest youth development organizations: the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs and a local community and school district. In Minnesota, the Beacons Network has a 20-year history, serving more than 4,000 youth and 2,000 families in Minneapolis. Measurable results of the program demonstrate improved academic performance, better school attendance, and increased sense of belonging and connection to the community for Beacons students.

Discover how University YMCA and Allina Health’s Change to Chill program is making a difference – YMCA Chill Zone

Learn how the YMCA Best Buy Teen Tech Center is teaching invaluable job readiness skills and career development – YMCA Best Buy Teen Tech Center

Explore why out of school time programs benefit youth – What Happens During Out of School Time?

Because the YMCA is a leading nonprofit committed to helping youth thrive, financial assistance is available to those in need. To learn more about the Y’s programs, please visit ymcamn.org.