YWCA USA History
Throughout our history, the YWCA has been in the forefront of most major movements in the United States as a pioneer in race relations, labor union representation, and the empowerment of women.
1858 The first Association in the U.S., Ladies Christian Association, was formed in New York City
1860 The first boarding house for female students, teachers and factory workers opened in New York, N.Y.
1866 "YWCA" was first used in Boston, Mass.
1872 The YWCA opens the first employment bureau in New York City
1874 The YWCA opens a low-cost summer “resort” for employed women in Philadelphia, Pa.
1889 The first African-American YWCA branch opened in Dayton, Ohio
1890 The first YWCA for Native American women opened in at Haworth Institute in Chilocco, Okla.
1894 The United States of America, England, Sweden and Norway together created the World YWCA, which today is working in over 125 countries
1906 The YWCA was the first organization to introduce the positive health concept and sex education in all health programming
1907 YWCA of the USA incorporated in New York City
1908 The YWCA was the first industrial federation of clubs to train girls in self-government 1915 The YWCA held the first interracial conference in Louisville, Ky.
1918 The YWCA was the first organization to send professional workers overseas to provide administrative leadership and support to U.S. Armed Forces
1920 Based on its work with women in industrial plants, the YWCA Convention voted to work for “an eight-hour/day law, prohibition of night work, and the right of labor to organize”
1921 Grace Dodge Hotel completed construction of a Washington, D.C. residence initially designed to house women war workers
1934 The YWCA encouraged members to speak out against lynching and mob violence, and for interracial cooperation and efforts to protect African Americans' basic civil rights
1938 The YWCA in Columbus, Ohio, establishes a desegregated dining facility and is cited by The Columbus Urban League "for a courageous step forward in human relations."
1942 The YWCA extends its services to Japanese American women and girls incarcerated in World War II Relocation Centers
1944 The National Board appears at the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate hearings in support of permanent Fair Employment Practices Committee legislation
1946 Interracial Charter adopted by the 17th National Convention
1949 The National Convention pledges that the YWCA will work for integration and full participation of minority groups in all phases of American life
1955 National Convention commits local Associations and the National Board to review progress towards inclusiveness and decides on "concrete steps" to be taken
1960 The Atlanta, Ga., YWCA cafeteria opened to African Americans, becoming the city’s first integrated public dining facility
1965 The National Board of the YWCA created the Office of Racial Justice to lead the civil rights efforts
1970 The YWCA National Convention, held in Houston, adopted the One Imperative: "To trust our collective power towards the elimination of racism, wherever it exists, by any means necessary"
1972 The YWCA started the ENCORE program for women who had undergone breast cancer surgery
1982 YWCA establishes Fund For The Future
1983 The YWCA National Board urges Congress to support legislation that opposes the South African policy of apartheid
1992 The YWCA National Day of Commitment to Eliminate Racism began in response to the beating of Rodney King, an African American man, the acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers accused of the crime, and the subsequent riots and unrest across the country
1995 The YWCA Week Without Violence was created as a nationwide effort to unite people against violence in communities. The annual observance is held the third week of October
2001 Steps to Absolute Change was adopted. The YWCA shifted from a top down to a bottom up grassroots organization. Local associations joined regions and elected their regional representatives to the National Coordinating Board
2004 Igniting the Collective Power of the YWCA to Eliminate Racism, the YWCA USA's Summit on Eliminating Racism, was held in Birmingham, Ala.
2008 The YWCA celebrated its Sesquicentennial Anniversary, 150 years of service, with the launch of the “Own It” campaign. The campaign focused on igniting a new generation of 22 million young women aged 18 to 34, inspiring them to get involved with important issues facing women and the country today.
2012 At the YWCA Annual Meeting in May 2012, a transition from the prior regional structure to a national federated structure was approved, followed by the adoption of new bylaws in November 2012.
2013 Today over 2 million people participate in YWCA programs at more than 1,300 sites across the United States.
YWCA USA transitions from an internal national coordinating board to a new board of directors driven by women of influence as well as YWCA leaders.
2015 YWCA USA develops a Mission Impact Framework and Theory of Change to focus and clarify our diverse body of work in racial justice and civil rights, women and girls’ health and safety, and women and girls’ empowerment and economic advancement.
Stand Against Racism becomes a signature campaign of YWCA USA reaching over 700 locations across the country.
The corporate name changed from “Young Women’s Christian Association of the United States of America, Inc.” to “YWCA USA, Inc.”, effective December 15, 2015.
2016 YWCA launches the YWCA Is On A Mission brand awareness campaign to deepen YWCA’s impact in local communities and on the national scale.