Family Access Strategy - YMCA of Greater Toronto: Access to Recreation for Low-Income Families

Organization Sponsor: YMCA Greater Toronto

Organization Partner: United Way of Toronto


Program Description

The Family Access Strategy was created as an alternative to the Membership Assistance program because some families are able to afford memberships for one or two members of the family, but not for all members of the family.

This strategy offers a family membership that allows a parent and any number of dependent children residing with them to become members of the YMCA for one fee. Membership provides access to all YMCA health, fitness and recreation programs. By offering an alternative to YMCA Membership Assistance, the Family Access Strategy helps families that may be struggling financially and encourages families to spend time in a positive environment.

The YMCA Family Access Strategy is designed to ensure that YMCA programs and services are open and accessible to all families at an affordable rate.The initiative occurs in all eight YMCA of Greater Toronto Health, Fitness and Recreation (HFR) centres across Toronto. Two new YMCA HFR centres are planned to open in new GTA areas before 2012.

Program Approximate Cost: 

$255,000.00 raised annually

Funding Sources: 

The YMCA of Greater Toronto is funded by a combination of sources, including the YMCA Strong Kids campaign and the United Way , provincial, municipal funds,generous donations from individuals and organizations in the community.

Strategies For Sustainability: 

Funders, municipal partners, and donors strongly encourage the YMCA to continue this practice and advocate for the health and well being of all. The YMCA Family Access strategy philosophy strengthens the bonds with the community.
The YMCA of Greater Toronto is committed to the Family Access Strategy.

Impact Of Program: 

More than 37,000 family members participate in YMCA Health Fitness and Recreation. This figure grows each year. YMCA memberships in total are well over 165,000 per year.Members who receive financial assistance: 262,759. This figure grows each year.

Evaluation Tools: 

Family Access strategy in YMCA Health, Fitness, and Recreation has resulted in 40% growth in membership.

Key Elements Towards Success: 

• To respond to families’ struggles with the need for improved health, education, and social services.
• To provide access to YMCA programs and the positive impact that they have on low-income children, youth, families and newcomers.
The YMCA has shared the thinking behind this fee structure with other like-minded organizations to encourage increased access across the community.

Challenges To Meet Them: 

This program is promoted through:
• YMCA website;
• brochures and flyers;
• community partnerships; and
• staff who promote this fee to families when they come to the YMCA.

Length and Stage of Project: 

2006 to present.

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