Throughout our history, the YWCA has been in the forefront of most major movements in the United States as a pioneer in race relations, labor union representation, and the empowerment of women.


Today over 2 million people participate in YWCA programs at more than 1,300 sites across the United States.


The YWCA celebrated its Sesquicentennial Anniversary, 150 years of service, with the launch of the “Own It” campaign. The campaign focused on igniting a new generation of 22 million young women aged 18 to 34, inspiring them to get involved with important issues facing women and the country today.


YWCA of Trenton, N.J. and YWCA Princeton, N.J. establish the “Stand Against Racism” campaign, which spreads to 39 states with over a quarter million participants.


Igniting the collective power of the YWCA to eliminate racism, the YWCA USA’s Summit on Eliminating Racism, was held in Birmingham, Ala.


YWCA Greensboro
  • Celebrates its 100th anniversary by hosting a Gala event at the Marriott with dancing, historic review demonstrated through fashion, casino fun and the honoring of six YWCA “Living Legends”.


YWCA Greensboro
  • Sunshine Club for adults with mental disabilities and EnCore, group for women who have had breast cancer surgery, celebrates their 20th Anniversary.


Second Annual National Day of Commitment to Eliminate Racism is observed with a Washington D.C/Capitol Hill press conference and activities by YWCAs nationwide. First Race Against Racism is held.

YWCA Greensboro
  • Holds Family-A-Fair to celebrate 90 years of service to the Greensboro community.
  • Greensboro hosts a Teen Parent Conference


YWCA Greensboro
  • joins other groups to form Life Savers, a statewide coalition of NC organizations committed to reducing breast & cervical cancer mortality by providing access to screening mammogram and Pap smears. This group successfully lobbied for passage of legislation requiring health insurers to provide coverage for testing


Key civil rights leaders, public officials, and university and college representatives develop a blueprint for racial justice training at YWCA of the USA Racial Justice Convocation.


YWCA leads “pro-choice” demonstration, “March for Women’s Equality/Women’s Lives.”

YWCA Greensboro
  • Creates a series of workshops targeting rural women titled “Economic Empowerment for Women”


A newsletter, “On the Cutting Edge,” comes periodically from the national office to keep YWCAs informed about latest developments, events and programs in the area of racial justice.

YWCA is first women’s organization invited to join U.S. Olympic Committee, Multi-Sport Division.


World YWCA Council meets at the YWCA of the USA Leadership Development Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Jewel Graham, former National President, is elected World YWCA President.

YWCA Greensboro
  • Creates Widows/Widowers Helping Each Other (W.H.E.O.) support group


National Board passes resolution to support efforts to increase public awareness of racist systems enforced by the government of the Republic of South Africa, reduce use of U.S. resources that support apartheid and express concern to federal agencies responsible for U.S. policy and its implementation.

National Board participates in non-violent demonstration against apartheid outside the South African Embassy, in a candlelight vigil in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. and in front of the Consulate of the Republic of South Africa in New York City.


National Board sponsors a meeting of Third World Executives and Presidents. The 41 leaders representing 25 Associations discuss race-related stress, share skills and techniques for dea1ing with racism and establish a network.

YWCA Greensboro
  • Hosts a Coupon Clipping Convention


Affirmative Action Guide for Equal Opportunity revised. Action Audit for Change Process training incorporated into Learning Centers. December 31 deadline for member Associations to submit evidence of movement on the Action Audit for Change Process during the current triennium.

YWCA Greensboro
  • Creates support group for single parents


Action Audit Kit revised as Action Audit for Change Process. National Student Leadership called for the passage of the ERA in three more states by March 1979.

Dr. Dorothy Height, Director, Center for Racial Justice, retires. She is universally acknowledged as the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” often being the only woman present at meetings with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other national leaders.

YWCA Greensboro
  • Provides counseling for battered women
  • Creates Women’s Aid Hotline


YWCA Greensboro
  • Starts an African Heritage Studies group
  • League of Women Voters office established at the YWCA Greensboro
  • Auto Repair Workshops begin at the YWCA Greensboro


YWCA Greensboro
  • Opens a Rape Help Center

Affirmative Action incorporated into Management Training.

YWCA starts ENCORE program: exercise and support for women who have undergone breast cancer surgery.

World YWCA Council meeting in Canada adopts policy on discrimination. 27th Triennial Convention in South Bend, Indiana reaffirms the One Imperative.

Action Audit for Change, through convention action, becomes a requirement for continued affiliation with the National YWCA.


Conferencia para Mujeres de Puertorriquenas held in Greenwich, Connecticut. Affirmative Action Institutes held. Initiatives include Asian Focus, International Study Program, with an audio-visual presentation to interpret international dimensions on racism.

YWCA Greensboro
  • Hosts sessions on abolishing the death penalty


National Student YWCA experiments in pluralistic governance to support ethnic caucuses and develop local model-building programs to eliminate racism.

Convention in San Diego, California reaffirms the One Imperative.


The One Imperative packet is disseminated and workshops added. A web of Racism Institutes is held in 15 cities in consultation with Asian-American Women, Honolulu, Hawaii and La Conferencia de Mujeres por La Raza, in Houston, Texas.

World YWCA Council meeting in Ghana adopts Policy on racism and racial discrimination.

YWCA Greensboro
  • Hosts political workshops for women and Ex-offenders Rehabilitation programs.


SPECTRUM, a summer project in understanding the urban revolution, is held to prepare for the NASY in December. This project, in which students worked in the city with the community, established a different model for student summer projects. In a New York Times ad, the National Board issues a “Call to Women Who Care” to work for open housing.


Office of Racial Justice is established. Dr. Dorothy Height, director, leads a massive campaign against discrimination against minorities in the YWCA and society. National Board votes $200.000 in support. Student YWCA votes to oppose apartheid in South Africa and urges National Board to investigate its investments.


National Student Council of the YWCA approves a National leadership Conference for training student leaders, establishes a voter registration and education program, supports federal civil rights legislation, and urges the establishment of a Human Relations Council by each Association on its campus. National Student YWCA leaders focus on “challenge to affluence,” with the concern for revolutions in Latin American countries and poverty in the United States.


At the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation and the height of the civil rights movement, the National Board launches a two-year Action Program to develop a strategy to achieve, within a given time span, real integration within YWCA programs, membership, all levels of volunteer and employed leadership and in the use of all YWCA facilities and equipment; provide more active leadership with other community groups in the areas of fair housing, voter registration and literacy programs; and provide within its regular budget the underwriting of a special two-year project on desegregation of community YWCAs with two staff members and supporting services.

YWCA participates in a March on Washington, D.C., for Jobs and Freedom. 1964


YWCA Conference on Child Care calls for “cooperation with professional day care agencies assessment of the needs of working women and their children and acceptance of children of all racial, religious, and economic backgrounds at a cost parents can afford.”


The Convention votes in its National Public Affairs Program for continued effort to secure and maintain basic individual rights and liberties inherent in our democratic institutions, including equal opportunities for housing, jobs, education and citizenship responsibilities.


As an “imperative requirement of these times,” the 21st National Convention votes to concentrate on a “greater degree of progress toward inclusiveness in respect to leadership, membership, program and services.”


There begins a series of foundation grants to the National Board for special projects in human relations in the National Student YWCA to work specifically in the area of race. A workshop format is developed for local and intercollegiate events. These workshops begin in the southwest region, and then in the total south and finally national workshops are included.


Dissemination actions taken on Supreme Court decision. A booklet was written and distributed in 1953 and 1954 on “Our Schools and Our Democracy.” Pamphlets, magazine articles and program aids on desegregation arc sent to Local Associations at the request of the National Board. A Southern Regional Conference is held in Atlanta, Georgia to discuss “Desegregation: Problems and Opportunities.”


YWCA Greensboro
  • YWCA board recommended the desegregation of the Council of Social Agencies, the Girl Scouts and the United Church Women. YWCA Greensboro creates an all-association council to promote interracial effort within its own organization.


YWCA Greensboro
  • Public Affairs Committee (PAC) hosts series on “Understanding the Marshall Plan”


YWCA Greensboro
  • The Susan B. Dudley Branch opens on Dudley Street


YWCA Greensboro
  • Forms the Interracial Committee


YWCA extends its services and personnel to Japanese women and girls who were evacuated to 10 Relocation Centers. The Naticma1 Student Assembly takes a stand on the relocation of Japanese-Americans, calling it “a basic negation of civil liberties and one of the most flagrant cases of color discrimination in the history of our democratic procedure,” and urges release and resettlement of these citizens.


Interracial seminar marks the first intercollegiate, interracial, co-ed conference in the south, held at Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina.

National Student Assembly brings to convention floor a resolution that the YWCA re-affirms its support of an anti-lynching Bill in Congress.


YWCAs are urged by convention action to encourage and support the federal government in policies of interracial cooperation rather than of segregation, and to support efforts to assure African Americans’ protection in the exercise of their basic civil rights.

YWCA calls for legislation to provide for dissemination of birth control information under authorized medical direction.


National Board sends a board member to Decatur, Alabama, to monitor and assess the administration of justice in the Scottsboro case, a famous court case that dramatized the inequities of the southern judicial system in relation to blacks.


Local YWCAs are urged by convention action “to foster right public opinion which shall be effective against the menace of lynching and mob violence in every form.”


YWCA Greensboro
  • Meeting of presidents and secretaries of North Carolina YWCA’s held in Greensboro discussed the following problems: international relations, racial justice, problems facing youth, freedom of speech, dissemination of birth control information, motion pictures and liquor control.


YWCA Greensboro
  • Day nursery created for working women of color’s children.
  • Twelve women met at Carnegie Library and formed a Committee of Management for the creation of the Susan B. Dudley Branch of the YWCA Greensboro, to serve black communities in Greensboro, and began raising funds for the Dudley Memorial Building.


National Student YWCA organized its field councils on an interracial basis, adopting the principle of inclusion of representation of all parts of the membership in Regional Councils.


Grace Dodge Hotel is completed; a Washington, D.C. residence initially designed to house women war workers.


YWCA works for wages and hour laws that affect women.

First National Student Assembly held. Racially integrated student conferences are held in the south. Delegates representing 30,000 YWCA industrial members at the 1st National Industrial Conference in Washington, D.C., agree to work for “an eight-hour law, prohibition of night work and the right of labor 10 organize.”


Extensive work with women of all races is expanded through the War Work Council. First women’s organization permitted in a U.S. Army camp.

First group to send professionals (433) overseas to provide administrative support for U.S. armed forces.

YWCA Greensboro
  • Incorporates under NC Nonprofit Corporation Act


First English-as-a-Second-Language classes open at YWCA of New York City.


YWCA organizes the first interracial conference in the south, held in Louisville, Kentucky.

Hollywood Studio Club, YWCA residence for aspiring actresses, opens in Los Angeles, California


YWCA National Board creates a Commission on Sex Education (Social Morality). First national conference grounds for women: 30-acre YWCA Asilomar Conference Grounds opens in Pacific Grove, California, designed by architect Julia Morgan.

Eva Bowles is the first African American staff member to work with Local Associations.


First Public Policy Resolution was passed: support passage of minimum wage law for women.

Bi-lingual instruction for immigrant families is featured in the YWCA International Institute.


Fifty-seven branches are created to help immigrant women.


First Secretary (director) works with African-American colleges; in under a year, such student YWCAs double.

YWCA Greensboro
  • Social Study Class leads to the formation of the District Nurse and Relief Committee.


American Committee (composed primarily of Student Associations) and the International Board (composed of primarily city and town Associations) joined together to form one organization, the Young Women’s Christian Association of the United States of America.

First organization to introduce “positive health” sex education in all health programming.


YWCA Greensboro
  • Began with the opening of a rest and reading room in the Southern Life and Trust


YWCA has seven African-American Student Associations affiliated with it.


National organization of mostly student Associations joins with Great Britain, Sweden and Norway to found the World YWCA.


First training school for practical nursing opened in the YWCA of Brooklyn, New York.


First public cafeteria opened in the YWCA of Kansas City, Kansas.


First YWCA among American Indian young women organized at Haworth Institute (Chilocco, Oklahoma).


First Negro branch organized in Dayton, Ohio.


Convention report states, “When the little one enters the Kindergarten at throe years, a new world opens to him (sic). Immediately his heart, head, and hands are enlisted in his everyday work. The little one plays and sweet songs are fun of meaning and a part of the whole plan of education.”


YWCA of Pittsburgh opened and operated for many years a home for Negro orphans and children seeking foster parents.


First (and only) low-cost summer “resort” for employed women opened in the YWCA of Philadelphia; dedicated by President Ulysses S. Grant.


First Student YWCA organized at Normal University in Normal, Illinois.


First sewing machine classes and first employment bureau opened in the New York City YWCA.


First typewriting instruction for women opened in the New York City YWCA (typewriting was considered a man’s job).


In the face of “unreasonable prejudice and misinterpretation”, Cleveland opens The Retreat, a residence for unwed mothers.


First travelers’ aid initiative opened in the Boston YWCA. It later separated to become the Travelers’ Aid Society.


First childcare center in the U.S. opened in the YWCA of Philadelphia.


First boarding house for female students, teachers and factory workers opened in New York City.


YWCA name first used in Boston.


First town Association is founded, Ladies Christian Association in New York City.