YMCA of Greater Rochester Announces Major Community Partnership 

Y, Center For Youth working to transfer Monroe Family Branch to The Center 

Rochester, NY – The Y isn’t just the name on the building. We’re a spirit, a movement and a cause. Members join us because they believe in us – and the values we stand for. The Rochester Y has deep roots within the community it has proudly served for more than 166 years. 

The Monroe Family Branchestablished in 1923, has continuously nurtured the potential of kids, helped people understand and improve their health, and provided opportunities to give back and support our neighbors. But this Monroe Avenue Neighborhood facility has struggled even in the best of times. 

For at least the last decade, our Monroe Y has struggled to grow to meet our community’s changing and growing needsMuch like our community, the YMCA of Greater Rochester is an interconnected network. Our Association’s combined resources are distributed to support the whole. Some of our operations produce a surplus while others, like Monroe, run at a deficitThe COVID-19 health pandemic has changed our financial outlook greatly and we know that some facilities will no longer generate the kind of surplus required to operate all our branches 

Further, as our organization has evolved the past several years, more of our impact in the City of Rochester is made outside of our walls, with thousands of children and families benefiting from our services in schools and community centers throughout the region. And finally, in today’s new world, our Monroe building doesn’t allow us to serve the needs of our members appropriately – parking is extremely limited, and the size and configuration prevent us from providing adequate social distancing. 

For these reasons, coupled with the reality that membership has remained flat and almost half of the existing Monroe members have transitioned to using our larger, more modern facilities, we find ourselves at a crossroads, acutely aware now is the time for a rebirth of this community facility. In looking at our options: boarding up the building, selling it to a developer for potential redevelopment, or finding an interested community partner, there was only one option that we were willing to pursue—seeking a community partnership. 

“There is never good time to close a chapter in our history,” said George M. Romell, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Rochester. “Being able to transition this building to another vital community nonprofit ensures its legacy within the City. And that is the Y’s mission at work: supporting community for all any way possible – even if that means we step aside.” 

The COVID-19 crisis has created a crisis for The Center for Youth and the YMCA. The need to transition the building is immediate as the Y cannot sustain it and The Center cannot safely reopen in its current location and serve youth in the same meaningful way it has for nearly 50 years. 

“This is the result of a longtime relationship between the two organizations, built on mutual respect, and shared vision for a better Rochester community for all,” said Elaine Spaull, Executive Director of The Center for Youth. “We are looking forward to creating spaces in this historic building that will reflect our own mission of embracing all people, and we hope our actions honor the Y’s legacy.”  

The YMCA and The Center for Youth couldn’t do this alone. Private foundations, generous individuals and corporations, and the United Way Synergy Fund, believing in our work, are committed to financially supporting the successful transition of this facility. 

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to serve the community in the urban core through our Southwest Branch in the 19th Ward, our renovated historic Maplewood Branch in the 10th Ward and the Carlson MetroCenter downtown,” said Romell. “Besides our three membership facilities, we also have a strong Community Services Division that impacts the lives of more than one thousand youth and their families across the City of Rochester — through programs that stretch beyond the walls of a traditional YMCA branch and directly into our city neighborhoods. The CSD model provides the ideal structure to make deep and lasting impact for thousands more in Rochester than the Y has ever previously reached. 

Over the next few months, as The Center for Youth board and staff move forward with their own due diligence, the Y also stands ready to partner with The Center for Youth to continue serving the needs of this important community as this transition continues to evolve. 

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE TRANSITION OF THE MONROE FAMILY BRANCH

 The Monroe Family Branch, established in 1923, has continuously nurtured the potential of kids, helped people understand and improve their health, and provided opportunities to give back and support our neighbors. But this Monroe Avenue Neighborhood facility has struggled in the best of times. 

The impact of COVID-19 and the multiple unanticipated consequences of the crisis have presented the Y with issues that will have long-term consequencesIn looking at our options: boarding up the building; selling it to a developer for potential redevelopment; or finding an interested community partner, there was only one option that we were willing to pursue—seeking a community partnership. 

There is never good time to close a chapter in our history. However, being able to transition this building to another vital community nonprofit ensures its legacy within the CityAnd that is the Y’s mission at work: supporting community for all any way possible – even if that means we step aside. 

WHY THE MONROE BRANCH?

Membership at the Monroe YMCA has reminded flat for years, and more than half of Monroe members’ visits since September were at our more modern branches located across our service area. 

Monroe has been running an operational deficit for many years. It costs the YMCA of Greater Rochester $872 per member unit to operate a branch that our members have indicated to us that one out of every two visits will be to another YMCA facility other than Monroe. 

DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO CLOSE OTHER BRANCHES?

Our Victor Active Family Center will not reopen for membership. In the coming months we will determine the future operating use of the building. All members of our Victor Branch will be able to use any other YMCA of Greater Rochester facility. 

WHY NOW?

There is never good time to close a chapter in our history. However, the impact of COVID-19 and the multiple unanticipated consequences of the crisis have presented a set of problems that we need to address immediately.  

Much like our community, the YMCA of Greater Rochester is an interconnected network. Our Association’s combined resources are distributed to support the whole. Some of our operations produce a surplus while others, like Monroe, run at a deficit. The COVID-19 health pandemic has changed our financial outlook greatly and we know that some facilities will no longer generate the kind of surplus required to operate all our branches. 

WHEN WILL THIS HAPPEN?

The YMCA and The Center for Youth are working in partnership under a memorandum of understanding agreement whereby the YMCA will transfer the building for $1 to The Center for Youth. Transfer of this building is due to be complete in the coming few months. 

WHY THE CENTER FOR YOUTH?

The Center for Youth currently has an office on Monroe Avenue. The space has served The Center well for more than 25 years, but added programs throughout the years presents a serious shortage of office and general meeting space, and most of all, safe and large enough spaces to continue its work with large groups of homeless youth. Additionally, the Y and The Center have an established collaboration as the Y has provided physical education at New Beginning School Initiative for years, as well as a leadership partner in The Center’s Safe Place program. 

The COVID-19 crisis has created a crisis for The Center for Youth and the YMCA. The need to transition the building is immediate as the Y cannot sustain it and The Center cannot safely reopen and serve youth in the same meaningful way it has for nearly 50 years.  

With the Monroe Y site, The Center can implement programs and services that reflect its legacy and further its mission by adding space that is flexible and available to youth for engagement and enrichment. While The Center’s current site at 905 Monroe will continue to serve its youth well, adding more youth-centered areas will make it possible to welcome more young people to their work. For nearly 50 years, The Center has valued youth voices and youth input, but has lacked the space to allocate areas for youth to develop their own programs.  This donation can offer this opportunity. 

Established in 1971, The Center for Youth provides counseling, street outreach programs, emergency shelter, transitional living programs, prevention education, and student support centers. The Center offers free, voluntary and confidential services to more than 25,000 young babies, children and youth. 

WHAT IS THE YMCA’S COMMITMENT TO SERVING THE CITY MOVING FORWARD?

Being able to transition this building to another powerful community nonprofit ensures its legacy within the City. And that is the Y’s mission at work: supporting community for all any way possible. 

We remain steadfast in our commitment to serve the community in the urban core through our Southwest Branch in the 19th Ward, our renovated historic Maplewood Branch in the 10th Ward and the Carlson MetroCenter downtown. Besides our three membership facilities, we also have our Lewis Street Child Care Center and strong Community Services Division (CSD) that impacts the lives of more than 1,000 youth and their families across the City of Rochester — through programs that stretch beyond the walls of a traditional YMCA branch and directly into our city neighborhoods. 

The CSD works to strengthen the foundations of community through equityyouth development, healthy living, and social responsibility initiatives that support and empower our youth and families to thrive. Our Without Walls succeeds because of the powerful partnerships we establish with our youth, families, funders, policy makers, community stakeholders and other human service agencies such as The Center for Youth, and our commitment to diversity and inclusion.     

Today, the CSD partners with the Rochester City School District to provide high-quality out-of-school time enrichment programming at nine school campuses across the city. CSD school year and summer youth development programs promote social-emotional learning and provide creative, engaging, project-based learning that works to close the achievement gap and reverse the summer learning loss challenge for our urban youth. CSD offers a variety of specialized programming for youth including: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math); Civic Education and Engagement; Music and Arts; Sports and Nutrition; and opportunities to explore their own interest areas.   

The YMCA of Greater Rochester’s CSD also supports programs throughout the community that provide food access and emergency food distribution for youth and families throughout the year and initiatives that address a variety of emergency needs. The CSD model provides the ideal structure to make deep and lasting impact for thousands more in Rochester than the Y has ever previously reached. 

Conversations are ongoing, and multiple contingency plans are being developed to determine the best way we can serve youth and families this Fall at our Lewis Street Center. We want to be part of the solution for providing educational equity for young people across the community. When we have a better understanding of what our offerings will be, we will share those plans with the community. 

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO STAFF?

Most full-time staff members from the Monroe Family Branch have been redeployed to positions within the YMCA of Greater Rochester. These staff members look forward to being welcoming faces for former Monroe members at locations across our Association. 

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THOSE WITH MEMBERSHIPS AT BOTH MONROE AND VICTOR?

All current members of the Monroe Family YMCA and Victor Active Family Center will have access to all other YMCA of Greater Rochester facilities. This Passport Membership will be valid for 12 months and will activate when YMCA of Greater Rochester operations resume. 

DO YOU HAVE A TIMELINE AS TO WHEN YOU WILL REOPEN YOUR REMAINING BRANCHES?

We are waiting to learn more from the Governor as to when we can reopen. As we reopen, we will do so cautiously, safely and slowly, and in a financially responsible way. To meet these parameters, we will be opening our branches in stages. 

When we receive clearance to reopen operations, we will be opening the following six branches first: Corning Family YMCA, Eastside Family YMCA, Maplewood Family YMCA, Southwest Family YMCA, Schottland Family YMCA and Westside Family YMCA. 

Our plan is to open our remaining branches — Bay View Family YMCA, Carlson MetroCenter YMCA and Northwest Family YMCA — five weeks later.