YWCA Mahoning Valley Merger Boosts Capacity
By Leah Merritt, President & CEO, YWCA
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio –Transformation was at the heart of YWCA’s work in 2018. On International Women’s Day, March 8, the YWCAs of Warren and Youngstown announced a merger, allowing the agencies to unify services, bolster the ability to obtain funding and better serve the community.
On May 1, the merger was completed and YWCA Mahoning Valley was officially formed.
YWCA Mahoning Valley employs 35 and its administrative headquarters is in Youngstown. Offices are maintained in Warren as well, where YWCA operates supportive housing for women and families leaving homelessness behind and youth development programming for teen girls.
YWCA marked the merger with a reunion of Y-Teens from both counties. Y-Teens was a program serving girls from the 1930s through the 1980s. The event in Warren included the opening of a 1928 time capsule. A new time capsule containing information about YWCA staff, programs and mission was dedicated.
Through this transformation, YWCA continued its mission-driven work to eliminate racism and empower women through programming and events in three core areas: housing, youth development and empowerment.
Even before the 2018 merger, however, the YWCAs in the Mahoning Valley were sharing services and staff to provide housing programming for women and families. Nearly 350 people were served by a YWCA housing program in 2018.
Last year, staff and leadership met with members of Congress to discuss affordable child care, closing the gender pay gap and ensuring a robust economic future for women. YWCA also offered bystander intervention trainings with the goal of equipping community members to address identity-based harassment.
YWCA held its second annual International Women’s Day event, with over 100 people attending the music and fashion show that encourages diversity, recognizes the cultures represented in the area and celebrates the contributions of women. The 2019 event is March 7.
Y’s Women, a peer-to-peer fundraising event, returned to the YWCA’s Warren location in October. More than 150 women enjoyed a catered dinner and designer purse auction while raising funds to support programs. The 2019 dinner will be held Oct. 17.
Women Artists: A Celebration! grew with the inclusion of a new show featuring the work of local artists between the ages of 14 and 17. Twenty-one artists were awarded $3,000 in prize money. The show featured 143 works by 85 artists.
Thirty high school seniors were honored last year at YWCA’s Young Women With Bright Futures program. Honorees are nominated by their school administrators and participate in leadership development, diversity training and community service. Two senior students were awarded scholarships: one for $12,000 and one for $8,000, each over four years.
Our Summer Manufacturing Institute served youth in grades four through six with explorations of aspects of manufacturing. Summer Steam camps offered experiences in dance, 3D arts and carpentry. In Warren, Girls’ Camp provided two month-long experiences for girls, aiming to address the gender gap in the sciences and provide opportunities for academic, personal and social growth.
In 2018, YWCA secured a grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation to promote women’s entrepreneurship. Through a partnership with Youngstown Business Incubator, YWCA will host events to encourage business development. A Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference is planned for Feb. 9 in Warren, with a second event planned for June in Youngstown.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.