Today, the Y engages more than 10,000 neighborhoods across the U.S. As the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to helping people and communities to learn, grow and thrive, our contributions are both far-reaching and intimate—from influencing our nation’s culture during times of profound social change to the individual support we provide an adult learning to read.

By nurturing the potential of every child and teen, improving the nation’s health and well-being, and supporting and serving our neighbors, the Y ensures that everyone has the opportunity to become healthier, more confident, connected and secure.

Here’s a glance at our rich history, and a snapshot of our many successes over the last 160 years on behalf of the individuals and communities we are privileged to serve.


  • YMCA Founded in Cincinnati

  • English as a second language program begins

  • Providing services to Civil War soldiers

  • Young Men’s Christian Association name is approved

  • Early beginnings of the Chase College

  • “Stranger’s Home” offers community support

  • The Y is incorporated

  • The Heyl House opens its doors

  • The Y opens railroad branches

  • Work begins on "Negro" branch

  • Opening extension sites for kids programs

  • Ninth Street branch opens

  • Elmwood-St.Bernard branch opens

  • University branch opens on UC campus

  • Central Parkway branch is built

  • County Work branch opens

  • Columbia Parkway branch opens

  • Northeastern branch is established

  • Camp Washington Simms joins the Y

  • Eastern Hills branch opens

  • Beginning of Gamble-Nippert branch

  • Central Parkways becomes USO center

  • Walnut Hills branch opens

  • Northeastern branch opens

  • Powel Crosley, Jr. branch opens

  • Gamble-Nippert branch is built

  • Blue Ash branch is built

  • M.E. Lyons YMCA location opens

  • YMCA begins Black Achievers Program

  • First offsite child care center opens

  • YMCA of Greater Cincinnati is created

  • Clermont YMCA merges with Cincinnati

  • Clippard Family YMCA opens

  • Child Development Services is formed

  • R.C. Durr branch opens

  • Carl H. Lindner branch opens

  • Camp Ernst Capital Campaign begins

  • Diabetes Prevention Program launches

  • Y at Duck Creek opens

  • Major renovations at Camp Ernst

  • Central Parkway closes for renovation


The R.C. Durr YMCA has expanded and improved their facilities to provide more opportunities to improve and maintain the Northern Kentucky residents' health. This was made possible with the addition of the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Healthy Living Center

The Central Parkway YMCA, located at 1105 Elm Street in downtown Cincinnati was reopened in July 2016 after a $27 million rehab of the fitness facility on the lower floors, and upper level remodeling to provide affordable housing for seniors.


There is no organization quite like the Y. From our inception, the Y has changed lives, ignited spirits, and strengthened communities by delivering innovative programs and services that address pressing social needs.

There are more than 2,700 YMCA’s across the United States, engaging over nine million youth and 13 million adults each year. Worldwide, the Y serves more than 45 million people in 125 countries.

George Williams founded the YMCA in 1844. Back then, industrialized London was a place of great turmoil and despair. For the young men who migrated to the city from rural areas to find jobs, London offered a bleak landscape of tenement housing and dangerous influences. 22-year-old George Williams, a farmer-turned-department store worker, was troubled by what he saw. He joined 11 friends to organize the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the streets.

For more on the history of the YMCA, click here.