The YMCA of Greater Seattle received a $18 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, validating the Y’s long history of serving others, and its leadership in community building and commitment to equity and justice for all. The Y has put this gift to work immediately by helping provide support to the community and advancing the work of the Y’s Equity and Justice Center of Excellence.
“Our collective progress as a community is critical to disrupting oppressive systems and barriers that impede equity and justice for all,” said Loria Yeadon, the president and CEO of the Seattle Y, in a statement. “With this generous gift, we are joining others in this work to transform the Y to be a producer of the next generation of equity and justice leaders. These leaders will be equipped and practiced in building inclusive and just communities centered on whole person health, resilient youth, families and communities, and a healthy planet. We look forward to others walking alongside us in this critical work for a better us.”
This gift was especially needed in view of significant financial and staff challenges the Seattle Y endured. This included the need to place 78% of staff on standby, overwhelming unemployment insurance expenses as a self-insured nonprofit, ineligibility for the Payroll Protection Plan in 2020, escalating cost of personal protective equipment needed to keep staff and members safe, and increased financial support for communities that needed the Y most.
As the Y moves forward in recovery, rebuilding and making critical investments, it has been humbled to have the gift as a lifeline while staff continue to show up for the community, knowing it will take years to rebuild a financial outlook to 2019 levels.
With this gift, the Y is able to not only recover from the impact of the pandemic, but also work on innovating and piloting community-based solutions to meet its most pressing challenges. In addition to investments in Y staff wages, bonuses, training and development implemented earlier this year, including raising minimum wages to $16.69 per-hour across the region, the Seattle Y shared how these investments are being put to work for the community with a focus on underserved communities, especially Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color:
- Recovering from the negative economic impacts of the pandemic.
- Piloting free early learning to improve kindergarten readiness.
- Offering free broadband access, leveraging accessible facilities across the region.
- Elevating whole person health to eliminate health inequities and piloting a community navigation hub offering trauma-informed care and support.
- Offering accessible vaccines and vaccination education to address vaccine hesitancy and the disproportionate health outcomes laid bare by COVID-19.
- Expanding access to technology and virtual whole person health programs.