Black and Latino Achievers


The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati Black and Latino Achievers Program is a college readiness and career exploration program, which provides teens with the essential tools to pursue higher education and to identify different career opportunities.

Strengthening the community by strengthening lives is the heart of what the YMCA is all about. It is the focus of our YMCA Black and Latino Achievers Program, one student and one volunteer at a time. Through the school year, career oriented adults help us engage teens in hands-on learning emphasizing college readiness, career exploration and leadership development. There are workshops, college tours, Toastmasters and more. Each year hundreds of area students are changing the direction of their life, growing spiritually and intellectually, because they are a YMCA Teen Achiever. Since our program’s beginning, it has awarded over $200,000 in scholarships, assisted youth with over $4 million dollars in awarded scholarships and engaged more than 4,000 adult volunteers through a network of corporate and community partners.

It all began in 1968. A group of Black staff called the Black and Non-White Y Secretaries (BAN-WYS) was established to work with metro YMCAs to address important concerns of people of color. Two years later, the group was discussing a program designed to motivate African American teens toward academic and career success. First conceived by Quentin Mease, that program was the Young Black Achievers of Houston, Texas. By 1971, the Harlem YMCA branch launched the very first YMCA Black Achievers Salute Gala and Teen Program in the format it is known today – and it quickly spread to branches and associations nationwide, including Greater Cincinnati. Actually even before Harlem’s program, our Cincinnati staff began cultivating support for such a meaningful and consequential effort. By 1979, it became a reality and our first YMCA of Greater Cincinnati Black Achievers Committee was established. Those special men and women gifted our community with a legacy that will live on for generations. Today, our Black and Latino Achievers Program is one of the region’s largest programs of its kind, partnering with area organizations and adult role models to inspire and encourage teens of color to pursue post-graduate work, establish careers, and give back to a community that helped guide them on their journey.

The Achievers Program curriculum is developed by YMCA staff, and executed by community and business volunteers - our Adult Achievers.

Curriculum Major Components: 

  • College Readiness
  • Career Exploration and Leadership Development
  • Toastmasters 

Our YMCA Teen Achievers Program activities focus on study skills/time management, interviewing techniques, financial management, team-building, field trips, community service learning projects, career assessment and more. It strongly incorporates the Abundant Assets - 40 critical factors for the successful growth and development of young people - and centers around the relationships with adult professional mentors and teens.

At the Y, we know that community and corporate involvement is critical to building networks and opportunities for youth. To that end, our program centers on the relationship established between volunteer mentors and youth, with an emphasis on career clusters. Clusters are workshops dedicated to specific areas of professional interest. Youth participants and mentors, who are experts in their field, complete projects that are designed to provide students with an opportunity to explore their career interests through real-life application of skills. Career clusters include:

  • Business/Entrepreneurship Series
  • Engineering/Technology (Lego Mindstorms Robots Series)  
  • Health/Medicine Professional Panels   
  • Law/Government (UC Black Law Student Association - Mock Trial Experience)
  • Toastmasters
  • Financial Education (Game Time Budgeting)


Program Outcomes

Teen Achievers successfully graduate high school and are prepared to enter college.
• 100% of senior students graduate high school
• 80% of students will increase their knowledge in college readiness material
• 80% of seniors will take at least one of the following tests: PSAT, ACT, SAT and Compass
• 80% of seniors will complete a FAFSA application
• 80% of seniors will receive at least one letter of acceptance to an accredited university, college or community college
• 70% of students will participate in a college fair/college tour

Teen Achievers are exposed to diverse career options.
• 80% of students will increase their exposure to career options through the career clusters
• 80% of teens will know how to prepare for a job interview
• 70% of students will increase their knowledge in financial literacy


Teen Achievers will earn a toast masters certificate.
• 70% of students will earn a toast masters certificate

Teen Achievers are academically and socially successful during their first year of college.
• 80% of students are enrolled in higher education after high school
• 60% of students will successfully complete their first year at an accredited university, college or community college

Click Here to learn more about the components and outcomes of our program.

Academic Year 2016-2017

The Achievers Program is ready to start for the academic year 2016-2017. Sessions will take place from September 24th 2016 through April 22nd 2017 at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College on the first and third Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Please see schedule of activities below.


The 2016-2017 program kickoff will take place on Saturday, September 24, 2016 at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in the ATLC Theatre at 11:00 am. The program kickoff is free and open to teens in grades 7-12 and their parents/guardians.

Student Application

We will receive applications from Sept 1st through Nov 19th. First time students should pay a $10 application fee.  Please print out, complete, and bring the student’s application and the $10 application fee to our Saturday sessions on Sept 24th, Oct. 1st, Oct 15th, Nov 5th or Nov 19th. (We take cash and checks only). Note - First time students will not be allowed to seat in the program until they have submitted an application and their corresponding payment.

*** Students who withdrew previously from the program and will be returning this year will have to pay the $10 application fee.

*** Returning Students who successfully completed the program last year DO NOT HAVE TO PAY ANY FEES.   

Download the 2016-2017 Program Schedule

Download the Teen Achiever Program Application

Descargue la Aplicación del Programa

*** Por favor note que nuevos estudiantes tendrán que  pagar una cuota de $10 por aplicación. Contacte a Mario A. Rodriguez si tiene preguntas [email protected] o (513) 362-2001


Since it began, the Achievers Program has engaged more than 4,000 adult volunteers. Over 40 professional mentors continue to be actively involved in the program. We are currently looking for volunteers for the 2016-2017 program year.

Click here to fill out a Volunteer/Adult Achiever Application.

The Achievers program and its academic partners award scholarships to Teen Achievers who meet both the program's and the academic insitition's criteria, and in their senior year, and planning to attend college. Scholarship opportunities:


• Morehead State University, (2) two full scholarships

• Northern Kentucky University, (1) one full scholarship, including room and board

• Hanover College, (1) one full scholarship

• University of Cincinnati, (1) one full scholarship

• Thomas More College, 50% tuition reduction

• Mt. St. Joseph University, 50% tuition reduction

• University of Cincinnati - Blue Ash Campus, (3) three partial scholarships


Additional opportunities:

  • College tours and fairs
  • Paid summer internship opportunities, when available
  • STEM and educational field trips
  • Service learning opportunities