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Paving the Way — A New Direction for YWCA Minneapolis

By YWCA Minneapolis
August 3, 2023
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Statement from Shelley Carthen Watson, President and CEO of YWCA Minneapolis:

Dear YWCA Community,

I’m reaching out to share a few changes for YWCA Minneapolis.

In a continued effort to address longstanding inequities and pave the way to a brighter future for all, YWCA Minneapolis is restructuring the organization to further disrupt the systemic issues plaguing children and their families. Specifically, YWCA Minneapolis is resetting program priorities and redeploying capital and resources toward higher-impact programming, including Early Childhood Education, Girls and Youth, and Racial Justice and Public Policy programs, as well as reimagining our YWCA Midtown location as a community hub.

As YWCA Minneapolis embraces this new chapter, the Board of Directors and Senior Leadership Team have made the difficult decision to close fitness, gym and pool operations at the Uptown and Downtown locations effective November 1. YWCA Minneapolis will pursue the sale of these buildings, as well as seek an alternative downtown or downtown adjacent location for current families of our YWCA Downtown Children’s Center.

Since its founding in 1891, YWCA Minneapolis has worked with the community to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands throughout the Twin Cities. These changes will provide crucial relief for the children and youth we serve as well as their families. Every moment is critical to their development, and we are committed to taking decisive action to support them through these challenging times and into the future.

Our strategic pivot comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened existing disparities in the Twin Cities community, and the long-term consequences, especially for children and youth, are becoming more apparent. After all of the school disruptions and prolonged isolation, youth are experiencing significant declines in educational outcomes, mental health and access to vital resources – including teachers and mentors. Three key stats that highlight the disparities:

  • While most students are falling behind academically, students of color as well as students from low-income households are seeing a much more drastic decline than their peers. In 2022, only 31.5% of children were proficient or better in math and only 29.7% were proficient or better in reading
  • Almost 40% of students have reported negative impacts on their mental health as a result of COVID-19 and rates of attempted suicide have increased, especially among girls
  • 89% of Minnesota schools reported being significantly impacted by teacher shortages in 2022

Unless we strengthen our intervention, our children will face lifelong challenges that limit their opportunities to grow and develop. Our mission – eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all – starts with our children and youth.

If you would like to learn more about this decision, linked here is a document with answers to frequently asked questions.

Thank you for your ongoing support of YWCA Minneapolis. I look forward to continuing to partner with you as we adapt and evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of our community. Together, we can address longstanding inequities and pave the way to a brighter future for all.


Shelley Carthen Watson
President and CEO
YWCA Minneapolis