Adult Education Organizations & Programs YMCA v. United Way

Name Job Duty Commented On
Vashon Broadnax United Way research
Katie Lowe YMCA edits and additions
Robert Mphepo United Way edits and additions
Lexi Rodebeck YMCA research


History, Mission and Goals:

The YMCA was founded on December 29, 1851 at the Old South Church in Boston. The YMCA stands for Young Men’s Christian Academy, which initially was started in London for a place for young men to seeking opportunities to escape threats they encountered daily on the streets. George Williams, a twenty-two year old man, gathered 11 of his friends to organize the YMCA for Bible study and prayer; a center for others encountering difficult life situations as well. The Y created a unique opportunity for social needs to the community, and was opened to members of all different classes. It actually provided a variety of English social classes to interact with one another, while otherwise they would have not socialized at all (The YMCA in the United States, 2017).

Years later, a retired Boston sea captain named Thomas Valentine Sullivan was working a marine missionary, and noticed the need to create a place similar to the YMCA in London. Sailors and merchants needed a safe place to go, a “home away from home”. Sullivan decided to open a YMCA in Boston on December 29, 1851. Today, the Y engages more than 10,000 neighborhoods across the United States. It is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to helping people and communities to learn, grow, and thrive (The YMCA in the United States). The YMCA’s contributions are far-reaching and intimate; these vary from influencing the nation’s culture during times of profound social change, to individually supporting and providing adults the opportunity to learn to read. Today, the Y offers programs, services and initiatives focused on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility, according to the unique needs of the individual communities it engages. The YMCA is guided by four core values: caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility.

The main programs/learning activities within the organizations:

The most popular program that the YMCA is known for within its communities is “The Y for a Better Us”. This program aims to improve the nation’s health and well being by providing programs and activities that promote wellness, reduce risk for disease and help others reclaim their health. This program can be thought of as the activity side of things. A variety of programs are offered to help support adults in fitness and wellness. On the fitness side of things, they offer a variety of group physical activity classes, personal training, and healthy lifestyle programs (Healthy Living, 2017).

In the group physical activity classes, one of the more highly attended programs adults enjoy attending is, Enhance Fitness, which is a group exercise program for older adults that use simple, easy to learn movements that help individuals stay active. Some benefits those have noticed after attending classes are; more energy, better balance, increase in upper and lower body strength, better sleep, more happiness, and sense of independence (Healthy Living, 2017).

In personal training programs, the Y offers you to meet with a coach to help meet the goals you may be working towards. The coach is available to help answer any questions, assist in workouts and provide nutritional information all to help individuals meet personal goals, along with motivating you to live a healthier life (Healthy Living, 2017).

The next program, is the healthy lifestyles program. These programs offer classes and programs to help those dealing with chronic diseases, joint and injury rehabilitation, stress, pregnancy and health assessments. The Livestrong program is a small group program that was developed and established in partnership with the Livestrong foundation. This particular program is to help assist those who are living with, through, or beyond cancer to strengthen their spirit, mind and body (Healthy Living, 2017). Participants have experienced improved fitness, quality of life as well as significant decreases in cancer-related fatigue. The program includes a 12-week program that has two 75-90 minute sessions per week. Activities include cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, balance, and flexibility exercises. All instructors are certified and require participants to be cleared by a physician before beginning the program (Healthy Living, 2017).

Another program that is very beneficial is the opportunity to partake in cooking classes. These classes are not only for children and teens, but also for mothers, seniors and adults who find interest in a variety of cooking options. These classes offer the opportunity for people to get started in creating a better and healthier lifestyle; practicing proper nutrition is not always easy, so these classes provide additional help and education. A few examples of classes that are offered are; YFS Moms Cook, Seniors in the Kitchen, and a Taste of African Heritage. These classes offer adults to expand their knowledge on cooking for themselves and families (YMCA of Washington Cooking Classes, 2017).

These programs are just one section of what the YMCA has to offer a variety of communities around the United States. The Y classes, programs and opportunities vary around the world, but for most part offer a lot of the same programs to participants. A few more area of focus for the YMCA  are life-learning, which includes pottery, book clubs, painting, and group travels, as well as,  spiritual-development like bible study, spiritually-focused yoga and meditation, and prayer groups (The YMCA in the United States, 2017). As you can see the YMCA offers a variety of informal education for adults to engage in. The Y follows their mission statement which says; The YMCA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all” (YMCA of Muncie, 2017).



In 1887, several religious leaders created the Charity Organizations Society which focused on providing services through fund raising for surrounding agencies. Frances Wisebart Jacobs, the Reverend Myron W. Reed, Monsignor William J. O’Ryan, Dean H. Martyn Hart and Rabbi William S. Friedman initiated a movement that raised $21,700 dollars that was considered the first “United Way” campaign.

Apart for  collecting funds for local charity organizations, the organization also focused emergency assistance in areas hit by natural disasters, offered counseling and referring clients to appropriate agency to get assistance. United Way has been impacting local communities in areas of health, education and social service by coordinating individuals and corporations.

Mission and goals:

The mission of the United Way a designated 501(c)(3), is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good. Echoing the missions of the United Way, Stacey Stewart (2011) reflected on how the effort of the United Way was rooted on the premise of “Goals for the Common Good,” a call to action for individuals and organizations to get involved and improve conditions in our nation (p. 37).

The main programs/learning activities within the organizations:


Now a worldwide organization, is seen in 40 countries and territories, serving 1800 communities, and raising 5 billion dollars annually. United Way have been providing resources for the communities and developing various partnerships and featured programs. Some of United Way’s featured programs are: MySmartMoney, My Free Taxes, National Football League (NFL) Partnership, 2-1-1, Born Learning, Center on Human Trafficking and Slavery, and The Hero Effect. These programs partner with 100 notable companies, that have that represent corporate, nonprofit and government, NFL, innovation, education, income, and health entities.

MySmartMoney a program supported by SunTrust Foundation, focuses on helping families immediate needs by taking back financial control. MySmartMoney also looks to educate families on planning for the future, through financial planning assistance.

MyFreeTaxes a HR Block collaboration, provides free tax preparation assistance for families whose household income is $64,000 or less. Since 2009, MyFreeTaxes has been assisting families to manage their finances.

NFL Partnership is a multi layered program that focuses on providing children with the tools they need to be successful. Since 1973, this partnership is the longest running collaboration in history between a major sports league and non-profit. Nearly every NFL team supports their communities through a Character Playbook that educate students on how to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships during their critical middle school years. In addition to this partnership the NFL hosts Hometown Huddle, a program that focuses on creating more opportunities for young people to get active and healthy. The local United Way partnered with the Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Wesleyan University to build a fitness center at Riverside Park and Family Center as part of the NFL’s PLAY 60 initiative, which encourages youth to be active at least 60 minutes each day.

2-1-1 is a free resource that helps people find local resources they need. By dialing 2-1-1, an individual can get access to a variety or resources such as:

  • supplemental food and nutrition programs
  • shelter and housing options and utilities assistance
  • emergency information and disaster relief
  • employment and education opportunities
  • services for veterans
  • health care, vaccination and health epidemic information
  • addiction prevention and rehabilitation programs
  • reentry help for ex-offenders
  • support groups for individuals with mental illnesses or special needs
  • a safe, confidential path out of physical and/or emotional domestic abuse.

By dialing 2-1-1, an individual in need has access to a specialist in their community who can put them in touch with local organizations that provide critical services that can make a difference by saving lives.

Born Learning is an initiative which began in 2005, in a response to educate parents, caregivers and community leaders on the abundance of information on child development. The United Way Success By 6, Families and Work Institute and the Ad Council, programs provide easy-to-understand material about child development.

Center on Human Trafficking and Slavery (CHTS) was created to modern day slavery.  The international reach this program has identified that there are more than 20 million victims of human trafficking around the world. CHTS, has identified six ways to take action on these issues; Raise Awareness, Learn the Signs, Join Us, Volunteer, Sign Up and know your slavery footprint.

The last premier program is The Hero Effect, this program provides stories that are produced as docu-series. This docu-series showcases, uplifting stories of individuals around the world. Each episode is shot on location in different communities across the country, celebrating everyday heroes that facilitate beneficial, life-changing impact on the people around them (United Way Worldwide, n.d.).  These docu-series can been viewed on the  Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).


            YMCA       The United Way


Started in Old South Church in Boston, all over the US now Started in Denver, CO
Year Founded December 29, 1851 1887

Mission and Goals

The YMCA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. United Way improves lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good.
Main Programs Youth Development

Healthy Living

Social Responsibility

MySmartMoney, My Free Taxes, National Football League (NFL) Partnership, 2-1-1, Born Learning, Center on Human Trafficking and Slavery, and The Hero Effect
How the programs are organized Subprograms within main programs, which go even further into programs within the subprograms Programs that are collaborations with other outside programs/organizations.
Goals the organization wish to achieve through these programs  -Nurturing the potential of every child and teen

– Improve the nation’s health and overall well-being

-Giving  back and support to their neighbors

Improve the Health, Income, Education of families.
Why were they organized Differently/Similarly The YMCA offers a variety of informal education for adults to engage in, following their mission statement. Their mission is “to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all” (YMCA of Muncie, 2017). Analyzing the various programs,  they were organized differently to solve different problems according to the core mission and values that the United Way was founded on. Meeting each component defined by United Way, the programs have little to no cross collaborations, therefore the programs almost act independently.


The YMCA is a place for families, adults, youth, and teens to better improve themselves as people and as a community as a whole. Reflecting on the literature about the United Way, it was interesting to see the amount of money that was raised by this organization. Additionally, information on the effectiveness of programs were not readily seen. Critically thinking, what benefits do these major organizations gain by donating to the United Way?




(2017).  Healthy Living.

Stewart, S. D. (2011). United way’s focus on early grade reading. National Civic Review, 100(4),

37-41. doi:10.1002/ncr.20083

(2017). The YMCA in the United States.

United Way Worldwide. (n.d.). United Way. Retrieved March 27, 2017,

(2017). YMCA of Metropolitan Washington Cooking Classes.

(2017). YMCA of Muncie.