YMCA of Central Ohio

Our 5 Pillars

If you’ve spent any time at the Y, you know we have weights, yoga, and awesome swimming pools. We hope that you also know we have a tight-knit, supportive, and uplifting community in all of our branches. But you may not be aware of all the work that the Y does to make central Ohio helping underserved parts of our communities. So, if you’ve ever wondered what it is that the Y actually does to create lasting change, we’re here to answer those questions!

One of the easiest ways to look at what we do in and around Columbus is our 5 Pillars. The pillars are subsets of our three focus areas:

Each of our pillars focuses on a different aspect of the work that we do to create better quality of life in our community:

So, what is it that we do? And might it affect you or the people you love? Read on to find out.


Childhood Development and Educational Achievement

The first pillar focuses on the younger members of our community--that is, those in fifth grade and below. We focus on the physical, cognitive and social/emotional growth and progression of children so that they will have more opportunities and brighter futures as they grow older.

In our programs, we seek to provide safe and supportive spaces while fulfilling specific learning goals (such as meeting  “ready to learn” benchmarks and reading at grade level by grade 3) and reducing summer learning loss. Outside of academic-oriented work, we also instill healthy habits, values, and the skills to develop positive relationships and a sense of belonging.

What does this look like?

We prepare children to take on the world with programs like:

Some of these are designed for specific groups, such as children with disabilities or low-income families. However, all of our programs nurture and encourage children to become their best selves.

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Youth and Teen Development

Our support doesn’t stop once your child hits a certain age. We give older youth and teens challenges, experiences, and support that help give them tools to fulfill their potential. We work to further instill the skills, values and behaviors that lead to healthy habits and increased confidence and self-esteem.

Our youth and teen development programs build on our child care and early childhood education to provide social and recreational programs that offer opportunities to explore the world and learn more about art, science, culture, nature and citizenship. We cultivate a desire to be of service to others in the community, a sense of direction, and feelings of hope about the future.

What does this look like?

We work to to prepare youth to be capable, well-adjusted adults through a wide variety of programs:

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Healthy Communities

You may think that this pillar is only tied to fitness and working out, but the truth is that the Y’s resources build not just physical, but also mental, social, and emotional health. We help our community to invest in their future help by reducing the likelihood of chronic disease and developing healthy habits.

We connect individuals and families, creating supportive small communities where people have access to lifelong learning and growth opportunities. This community fosters the development of peer friendships and supportive staff relationships, provides opportunities to help those in need, and exposes individuals and families to the great value of our community’s diversity.

What does that look like?

We offer evidence-based signature chronic disease prevention and maintaince programs like:

We also support healthy activities like swimming, family camp, adult sports, group wellness, wellness behavior tracking and more.

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Housing to Eliminate Homelessness

Preventing and reducing homelessness in central Ohio is a priority for us because we believe that all people deserve to have their their physical, mental, and emotional needs met. We use a “housing first” intervention model to ensure that we connect individuals
with the services that they need in order to end their housing crisis and foster stability.

Our responsibility to our residents, however, goes beyond housing. We give them ongoing support with education, benefits and employment to provide opportunities to overcome barriers. This allows residents to develop the skills and competencies needed to live independently.

We encourage peer friendships and supportive staff relationships, and we nurture feelings of emotional and physical safety by being sensitive to the need for trauma informed care and crisis intervention.

What does that look like?

We serve people suffering from homelessness through:

  • Van BurenCenter
  • Franklin Station
  • Downtown YMCA residential locations
  • strategic partnerships with other community providers
  • programs like Rebuilding Lives, Columbus Sole, and Return Home Ohio

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Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Our final pillar points us continually towards the future. We are always working to ensure that we are growing to better meet the needs of our community. Through continued innovation and training, we seek out creative opportunities to unleash the power of business for social good in our community and within the YMCA. To accomplish our goals, we are continually working to improve our performance in areas such as volunteer engagement, employee skills, technology, and more.

We provide impactful business solutions to identified community and organizational needs, develop stronger leaders within our organization, and accelerate the growth of our Y so that we can serve a broader range of people.

What does that look like?

Along with initiatives to provide shared services to Ys and to develop innovation competencies in our staff and volunteers, we use prototypes to continually push boundaries in efficiency and innovation like:

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That’s a lot, huh?

The incredible breadth and depth of programs is part of what makes the YMCA such an amazing organization. We are so proud to be able to serve the people of central Ohio in so many different ways.

But, the thing is... we can’t do it all on our own. Donations from our community are what makes it possible for us to influence so many people. If you’re interested in giving back and want to support the work that the Y does, we welcome your donation.


  Help us make a better us

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