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.

4:00 pm

1914

YWCA moves to East Trade Street. Further opportunities are created for women to learn about law, city government, banking, nursing and sales. Later, an employment bureau for women is established.
4:00 pm
4:01 pm

1917

YWCA creates the Business Women’s Employment Council to assist women in their work efforts during WWI. YWCA opens Charlotte’s first childcare center at Highland Park Mill. The Phyllis Wheatly Branch of the YWCA is established for African American women and girls and is one of the first YWCA branches for African Americans in the U.S.
4:01 pm
4:02 pm

1922

YWCA’s first swimming pool was built at the East Trade Street facility.
4:02 pm
4:30 pm

1930s

In light of the Great Depression, YWCA offers unemployment counseling, a job bank and areas where women can practice typing.
4:30 pm
4:31 pm

1940s

After WWII, YWCA arranges for vocational counseling and employment fairs for women who might become unemployed.
4:31 pm
4:32 pm

1964

After school and summer enrichment programs are established for children whose families receive public assistance. Efforts are made to include additional federally funded childcare. The Phyllis Wheatly Branch merges with the general YWCA.
4:32 pm
photo of front of multi-story YWCA building on Park Road
4:33 pm

1965

Our new de-segregated campus opens at 3420 Park Road and includes: housing for 66 women, a kitchen, indoor pool, exercise and meeting areas, lighted tennis courts and corporate offices.
4:33 pm
4:33 pm

1977

A full-size gymnasium is added to the YWCA’s exercise facility.  
4:33 pm
4:35 pm

1996

The Women in Transition (WIT) program is transformed with the addition of assessment, supportive services, workshops and a computer resource center.  
4:35 pm
4:39 pm

2008

Families Together is built!  A 10 town-home community on our Park Road campus for homeless families with children under the age of 18.
4:39 pm
4:40 pm

2002

YWCA Central Carolinas celebrates its 100th Anniversary!
4:40 pm
3:59 pm

1902

Charlotte’s YWCA is established by Mrs. W.S. Liddell, Mrs. W.O. Nisbett and Mrs. F.C. Abbott. Leaders in the women’s suffrage movement, all three women serve as president until 1920.
3:59 pm
3:59 pm

1909

YWCA’s first mission is to meet the needs of women who move into the city to work in textile mills. YWCA’s location on West Fifth Street provides housing for 12 women and includes recreational and educational programs. By 1911, classes develop into a night school.
3:59 pm
4:38 pm

2000

Built in 1965, our Park Road campus, fitness center and administrative offices are renovated and updated for a new era.
4:38 pm
4:31 pm

2018

A Fresh New Look! Exceeding our $1.1 mil capital campaign goal, YWCA completely renovates the Co-ed Fitness Center locker rooms (showers, lockers, saunas and changing areas) PLUS purchases new spin and cardio gym equipment and chemically cleans and re-grouts the pool.
4:31 pm