The YMCA of Greater Rochester on Tuesday officially opened its YMCA Center for Equity at Lewis Street.
“The change goes beyond the name,” said YMCA President and CEO George Romell. “In partnership with philanthropic supporters and the community, the Center for Equity will support the emerging and changing needs of its neighbors. We are committed to seeing our mission at work here by listening and learning to ultimately serve the community in whatever way we can.”
The YMCA has served the Scio Street and Marketview Heights neighborhood for nearly two decades with the YMCA Child Care at Lewis Street.
Initial goals of the center are to increase student achievement and empower young people to make a positive change in their lives and their community. The YMCA partnered with the United Way of Greater Rochester Inc., Monroe County, the Greater Rochester Health Foundation and Brighter Days Foundation on the center, which is free and will expand programming.
The Center for Equity will be led by the Y’s Community Services Division (CSD), which has brought the mission of the Y to families across the city of Rochester through programs that stretch beyond the walls of a traditional YMCA branch and directly into city neighborhoods.
“The heart of the Y’s mission isn’t just within the walls of our buildings. It’s doing the cause-driven work directly in the community,” said Todd Waite, vice president of youth development for the YMCA. “This is a neighborhood full of pride and we are looking forward to working with the neighbors to grow the incredible legacy and spirit of this building and the people it serves.”
The center will build upon four ideals: race equity, health equity, sex/gender equity and newcomer/national origin equity. Programming will continue to grow as the Y learns from neighbors what they need and would like to see become of the space.
But most pressing, officials said, is virtual learning.
COVID-19 has found Rochester youth out of school buildings and in need of programs that will support virtual learning, especially in the critical foundation areas of literacy and math.
“Our Center for Equity will provide a safe, supervised place for 500 youth every week to drop in and have reliable internet connectivity in our classroom spaces,” Waite said.
Breakfast, lunch and a snack will be provided through a partnership with Foodlink Inc., with plans for additional food distribution in the future. Programs and hours of operation will evolve as the Y and community work together to determine what is most needed in the community.
Individuals who formerly used the center for childcare have been receiving care at the Carlson MetroCenter since April. Childcare staff were relocated to the MetroCenter.
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