Established in 1858, the YWCA of the City of New York (YW) is one of the nation’s oldest non-profit organizations committed to the personal, physical and social development of women, their families and communities—and we are proud to say that Grace Hoadley Dodge was one of the founding mothers of the YWCA NYC. Thanks to her support and unique vision, the YW has been on the frontlines of eliminating racism and empowering women in New York City for more than 150 years.
Grace Dodge was one of the YW’s early visionaries, known for achieving a major reorganization of the National YWCA in 1906. From there, the agency grew rapidly. Over 800 branches were formed nationally, and a national headquarters building was erected at 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue, here in New York City. Meanwhile there were other Dodge family heroines who carried on Grace’s legacy. Polly Dodge was another wonderful Dodge family heroine, who served as a YW board member and trustee for nearly 49 years. Today, we stand before you, 158 years later as a result of these women’s vision and leadership.
And our story does not end there—the Dodge family tradition continues. Recently, the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation (CHD) awarded the YW a $225,000 three-year grant to build the capacity of our Coney Island based Roberta Bright Early Learning Center (ELC) and our Polly Dodge ELC in Manhattan, NY. The YW serves 150 children annually between the ages of 2 – 5 in our ELCs. This grant will help the YW strengthen, expand and bolster our services.
The YW recently sat down with YW board member and Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation Vice President, Catherine O.Kerr to talk about their recent gift.
Why did you donate to the YW?
The Dodge family has supported the YW for more than one and a half centuries. My great aunt Grace Dodge was one of the original supporters and founders of the YWCA in her steadfast mission to help young girls and women in New York City. Her brother, Cleveland H. Dodge, continued the support with the founding of the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation in 1917. The CHD Foundation’s family members have continued this legacy by serving on the YW Board.
What makes the YW special?
The YW’s programs are very special because they encompass every aspect of a woman’s life: her childhood, her early adulthood, her education, and her career. The YW has followed this mission since its inception over 150 years ago.
Why should others get involved?
Young people, both men and women, should get involved with the YW, either by support or volunteering, because the programs and services provided are at the very core of family life in New York City.