YMCA of the USA and the Annie E. Casey Foundation Honor Ys for Family Strengthening Achievement

Sep 28, 2011, 10:36 ET from YMCA of the USA

Award recognizes innovative initiatives designed to improve the lives of vulnerable children and families

CHICAGO, Sept. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), in collaboration with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, has awarded five Ys with the 2011 YMCA-Annie E. Casey Foundation Families Count Family Strengthening Award in recognition of their exemplary work to strengthen and support families in their communities. The selected Ys will receive a monetary award to enhance their family strengthening initiatives and will serve as models for Ys across the United States.

"Since 2006, Y-USA has collaborated with the Annie E. Casey Foundation to recognize the meaningful and often life-changing work that Ys are doing across the country to help vulnerable families in their communities make positive changes and overcome obstacles," said Neil Nicoll, President and CEO of Y-USA. "We believe strong families equal strong communities and the foundation's support has helped us provide critical support to even more families in need nationwide."

Family strengthening at the Y is focused on providing the critical support and resources which empower vulnerable families to become strong, self-sufficient and economically stable.  The Y offers programs and services in a welcoming environment that embraces and reflects the diversity of families in the community. This commitment underscores the Y's commitment to strengthen communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  

"The Ys selected to receive FAMILIES COUNT Family Strengthening Awards this year truly make a difference in their communities," said Bonnie Howard, Director at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. "Their outstanding work opens doors to real opportunities and helps to build brighter futures for the families and children they serve."

Grant awards were given in two distinct categories:  Excellence Awards and Inspiration Awards.

Excellence Awards were given to three Ys offering innovative and proven family strengthening programming that can serve as a model for Ys across the country. Each recipient was awarded $15,000 to enhance and strengthen these efforts.

David D. Hunting Branch YMCA (Grand Rapids, MI)
Latinos for a Healthy Life
Latinos for a Healthy Life promotes lasting healthy lifestyle behaviors and addresses the obesity epidemic in Grand Rapids' Latino community. The 16-week program provides Latino families with culturally relevant nutrition education, physical activity, relationship building and maintenance strategies. Since its inception in 2009, 450 people have completed the program and positive changes have been reported for all targeted behaviors: Eating healthier foods, drinking fewer sweetened beverages, engaging in more physical activity and choosing healthier snacks.  

YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne (Fort Wayne, IN)
Family Support Conferencing
The Y's Family Support Conferencing (FSC) provides services to families of children at risk for abuse and neglect by providing professional facilitators to help each family develop a personal plan for positive change. Clients are referred by the Allen County Superior Court Family Relations Division and the Y's Youth Service Bureau. In 2010, 60 families participated in FSC, with 90 percent completing a court-approved action plan to improve the state of their family and reduce the likelihood of danger to youth.

YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee (Milwaukee, WI)
NEW Kids at the Y
NEW Kids at the Y (Nutrition, Exercise, Weight Management) provides education, skill building and support to parents who want to encourage their family to develop healthy behaviors. The program also helps children become empowered to make positive changes. Since its inception in 2004, NEW Kids at the Y has served more than 1,000 children from 400 families. This past year, 93 percent of participants reported they are more closely monitoring their child's snack food consumption and providing healthier snacks, and 89 percent have improved their family eating patterns.

Inspiration Awards were presented to two Ys offering programs or services which demonstrated great potential in strengthening families.  The $5,000 grant awarded to each Y will provide them with additional resources to further develop and expand these programs. Each received $5,000.

Community Program Branch (Denver, CO)
Y Neighbors
The Y Neighbors program collaborates with more than 60 community partners to provide a neighborhood-based network of care for families in need. The goals of the program are to stabilize families, protect children and build economic stability. Through Y Neighbors, a family advocate works directly with each participating family to assess their needs and help them develop a long-term plan toward self-sufficiency.  Since it began in 2007, Y Neighbors has served nearly 2,500 families and 3,369 children.

Historic Carondelet Family YMCA (St. Louis, MO)
Beginning Babies with Books
The Y's Beginning Babies with Books (BBB) program is designed to support parents in their role as their child's first and most important teacher and role model by providing educational workshops and opportunities for parents to network and support each other. BBB also distributes more than 10,000 books each year to children living in low-income households. A total of 727 parents participated in BBB in 2010, with 98 percent reporting that the program has given them increased confidence in their parenting.

Award recipients were selected through a competitive application process among Ys nationwide that serve vulnerable families and provide intentional family services that make a positive difference in their lives. Each exemplifies the Y's commitment to bring about lasting personal and social change by nurturing the potential of every child and teen, improving the nation's health and well-being and providing opportunities to give back and support neighbors.  

About the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Since 1948, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has worked to build better futures for disadvantaged children and their families in the United States. The primary mission of the Foundation is to foster public policies, human service reforms and community supports that more effectively meet the needs of today's vulnerable children and families. The YMCA-Annie E. Casey Foundation FAMILIES COUNT Family Strengthening Awards program recognizes YMCAs whose programs support the development of strong, capable and economically successful families. Award recipients are recognized for their outstanding efforts and serve as role models for other Y family strengthening programs throughout the United States.

About the Y
The Y is one of the nation's leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation's health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. ymca.net  

Diane Hurles
Donor Relations Manager
YMCA of the USA