BALTIMORE, MD - The Summit Area YMCA recently received the Diversity, Inclusion and Global Innovation (DIG) Program Innovation Award at the recent 2019 DIG YMCA Conference in Baltimore. The conference brought together representatives from DIG Innovation Network YMCAs to discuss opportunities for collaboration, discovery and exploration, given in light their individual and shared commitment to help address and improve systemic issues in order to advance equity for all.

The National DIG Innovation Network YMCAs of the Year Awards are presented annually to honor and lift up six Associations / local Ys who actively engage, strengthen, and cultivate equity, diversity, inclusion, and global engagement in their communities. Ys can be nominated in one of the six areas of opportunities that exemplify the extraordinary efforts that they lead to ensure the Y is truly an inclusive welcoming space for all as well as a catalyst for inclusion and equity in the broader communities they serve – locally, nationally and globally.

This is the first year in which the Y Movement nominated and awarded National DIG Innovation Network YMCAs of the Year Awards, as well as National DIG Champions of the Year Awards for legacy and emerging awards. More than 30+ YMCA association nominations that were submitted and the awards were presented in front of over 500 Y staff and volunteers from over 80+ YMCAs in the USA, as well as 20 international YMCA representatives from around the globe.

Sign Up for Summit Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

All nominations were reviewed by members of the National DIG Strategy & Steering Committee, which was led this year by Candace Murray from the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, Tabitha Ervin from the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne, Alison Lum from the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, and Claudia Soo Hoo from the Merrimack Valley YMCA.

The Award categories and 2019 winners included:

Brand & Visibility Award - YMCA of Greater Boston

Collaboration Award - Ann Arbor YMCA

Leadership Development Award - YMCA of Central Massachusetts

Member Engagement Award - Greater Brandywine YMCA

Resource Mobilization Award - YMCA of San Francisco

Program Innovation Award - Summit Area YMCA

The criteria for the Program Innovation award stated:

Y has assessed and expanded program participation by investing in new/improved approaches to programming in partnership with community, e.g.: Program Quality Evaluations, New or More Accessible Programs Offered, Policies implemented to ensure systemic changes with regard to program innovation from a lens of global community, equity and inclusion across multiple dimensions of diversity, Programs influenced by international Y partnership, etc.

The Summit Area YMCA was the first DIG network YMCA in the state of New Jersey and has a strong commitment to ensuring a welcoming and inclusive culture in all of its programming and services.

Diversity, inclusion and global work has a heavy influence in how the Summit Area YMCA engages with the community. Through continuous research, speaking to members of the community, focus groups, surveying members and staff and assessing feedback from the community, the Summit Area YMCA began implementing policies, programs and services that welcomed and provided access for its growing LatinX community, children and families living with diverse abilities and more.

The organization strives to live and breathe DIG values every day, dedicating time to ensure that all feel welcome, safe and included in and outside of their four walls. Through specifically-designed programs that are committed to DIG values, the Summit Area YMCA is continuously striving to identify and provide transformative solutions to meet community needs, continually listening to the community it serves, and working to continue filling identified gaps of need where possible.

Innovation highlights include:

“On behalf of all of our staff, volunteers and members of the Summit Area YMCA I am so proud that our Y is recognized with this incredible honor," said Paul Kieltyka, President & CEO of the Summit Area YMCA. "Special kudos to our DIG team of staff and volunteers led by Jenny Yip who all continue to move the needle for our Y and our community in terms of equity, fairness and global relations. Our strategic focus with DIG continues to be a very simple one: Respect and welcome all and do our best so that all in our community see our Y as a safe place to be their authentic selves. Our events and programs that help put this mission into action are truly having an impact for our Y and the communities we serve. We thank Y-USA for this amazing award and pledge to continue to do highly challenging, but rewarding, work into the future.”

The conference was an important learning experience for YMCA staff and volunteers, and also provided the opportunity to reaffirm the importance of the work they do every day. Inspirational keynote speakers fueled the understanding of the importance in achieving equity. Workshops presented the historical creations of systemic inequities, and important resources were provided enabling YMCA staff to present business cases to their organizational leaders / Boards geared toward propelling their YMCAs into DIG work.

To learn more about the Summit YMCAs work in Diversity, Inclusion and Global Innovation., visit thesay.org/About-Us/Diversity-Inclusion-and-Global-Innovation.