Our YWCA: Founded in 1902
For more than a century, YWCA Central Carolinas has stood at the forefront of social change, justice, and economic empowerment in Greater Charlotte. In 1902, our YWCA was established by leaders in the Women’s Suffrage movement. In 1917, the Phyllis Wheatley Branch of YWCA Charlotte was established for African American women and girls and was one of the first YWCA branches for African Americans in the U.S. In 1964, our main YWCA branch merged with the Phyllis Wheatley Branch, and in 1965, YWCA Central Carolinas opened a new de-segregated campus at our current location on Park Road. The new campus included the first de-segregated swimming pool in Charlotte.
Over the course of our history, YWCA Central Carolinas’ programs have shifted to respond to the changing needs of our community. In our earliest years, we provided recreational and educational activities as well as housing for women that had moved into the city to work in the textile mills. Steadily these programs evolved and expanded to meet the needs of the community. In 1964, after-school and summer enrichment programs were established for children whose families received public assistance. When our new campus opened on Park Road in 1965, YWCA was able to provide housing to single women in Charlotte in the form of 66 dorm-style rooms on the top three floors of our building. Starting in 1996, the Women In Transition (WIT) program was created, adding assessment, supportive services, workshops and a computer resource center to the existing housing. This residential facility continued to receive infusions of structure and supportive services such that it is presently regarded as a hallmark program of YWCAs in the southeastern region and serves as the primary transitional housing program for homeless women in the greater Charlotte area. In 2008, based off of the success of WIT, Families Together (FT) was created to serve families experiencing homelessness. FT is housed in 10 townhomes behind YWCA’s main building and provides case management and supportive services similar to our WIT program.
In 2009, YWCA USA and all of its member associations adopted our current mission statement: eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. In 2015, YWCA USA formally changed our corporate name from the “Young Women’s Christian Association of the United States of America, Inc.” to “YWCA USA, Inc.” Our name change reflects YWCA’s diverse and inclusive nature. In our early years it was “a Christian sisterhood” that drove our work. Today, our organization is driven by a commitment to social justice, no matter someone’s religion. Our updated name provides YWCA with the opportunity to engage a broader spectrum of individuals in our crucial work to eliminate racism and empower women. You can read more about the evolution of YWCA’s mission here.
Now, in our 8 Youth Learning Centers in Mecklenburg and Union counties, YWCA Central Carolinas operates free, accessible literacy-based after-school and summer programs for hundreds of K-5th grade students. In our transitional housing programs, Women In Transition and Families Together, we serve up to 66 women and 10 families facing homelessness by providing safe, affordable transitional housing and intensive case management services as they work toward becoming economically stable and finding permanent housing. In our Racial Justice work, we offer a variety of public community forums, discussions, film screenings and our annual Stand Against Racism to educate and engage the community around racial and social justice issues. Finally, YWCA engages and empowers neighbors and members of our community through our co-ed fitness center. Through each of these programs YWCA Central Carolinas works to advance our mission to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.