The YMCA was founded in 1844 by 22-year-old George Williams and his London-dwelling friends, all of whom were distressed by the dangerous conditions and bleak housing for working people. Today, the YMCA extends its branches through more than 10,000 neighborhoods across the country to foster social change by promoting youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Partnering with these communities and working with students and volunteers, the YMCA's programs sponsor and empower people of all backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses.
The organization's fitness and sports centers provide opportunities for people to exercise and achieve overall wellness, and social services connect underserved people with affordable housing, employment, and substance-abuse programs. Collegiate programs establish local service opportunities for students to teach a sense of self-awareness and community responsibility, and children’s camps help youth explore nature, be creative, and develop independence.