National Capital Area

Mission, Vision and History

The YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

Provide women and their families with the necessary programs that foster independence, economic stability and overall well-being.

Bold Goal
A majority of women and girls of color across the National Capital Area have the resources and support necessary to achieve personal, educational and professional success.

A Timeline of the YWCA of the National Capital Area

1905: The YWCA of the District of Columbia was established. Donations from Mr. Woodward, Mr. Lothrop, and Ms. Helen Gould opened the first office over the J. Maury Dove Coal office at 12th and F Streets NW and paid the annual salary of two staff members.

1907: Sponsored the city’s first adult education course and cafeteria.

1908: Founded the first Industrial Girl’s Club, providing services for package-wrappers and downtown department store workers. Created the first housing bureau with a registry of 72 approved boarding houses, which are carefully investigated and deemed appropriate for female habitation.

1910 : A donation of property in Cherrydale , VA enabled the YWCA to open a vacation lodge for working women. This property was reluctantly sold 1947, due to the expansion of the Washington suburbs into the formerly rural enclave.

1914: The War and Navy department enlisted the YWCA to ”cooperate with the government on morals and welfare of girls in war work”.

1915: Golden Jubilee Celebration for the YWCA of the USA, and ten years in Washington, where President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson were guests of honor.

1916 : Built first swimming pool for women and girls and hired first female elevator operator in Washington, DC.

1920: General Pershing cited the YWCA for exemplary war service. The YWCA welcomed ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.

1926: First Lady Grace Goodhue Coolidge laid the cornerstone for the YWCA’s permanent headquarters at 17th and K Streets NW.

1930s: During the Great Depression, the YWCA provided counseling, lodging, food service, adult education and physical culture classes for women and girls of all ages. Camp Stay- At -Home provided fun activities for teenagers who could not afford to travel to camp.

1935: Mrs. Henry Alvah Strong, lead donor, laid the cornerstone for the Strong Residence, an inexpensive housing alternative for newly arrived women in the District of Columbia.

1940s: Coordinated with other national organizations to found the USO. The first USO club in Washington was established on the 7th floor of the YWCA’s headquarters and was called the Penthouse USO club.

1944: Became the first non-segregated food service in the nation’s capital. Sent a plank to both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions calling for full racial integration of the armed forces and for federal abolition of racial discrimination and segregation on interstate travel.

1945: To meet growing demand for services caused by the wartime expansion in the D.C suburbs, the YWCA of Alexandria was established.

1950: The YWCA of Montgomery County, MD was established. Hannah Harrison Career School officially opened.

1960: Affirmed its support for the nonviolent civil rights movement.

1965: The YWCA of Fairfax County, VA was established.

1966: The local branches of the YWCA were consolidated into the YWCA of the National Capital Area in order to provide more effective financing and programming.

1970: The 25th National Convention of the YWCA adopted the One Imperative: “To thrust our collective power toward the elimination of racism wherever it exists and by any means necessary”.

1972: Opened a new fitness & aquatics center and childcare building in Fairfax County, VA.

1974: The Tower Residence opened, a group home for girls 14-18 whom the juvenile courts classify as “persons in need of supervision”. The YWCA offered its first child development programs.

1979: Developed a specialized program for young people with learning disabilities to improve socialization and independent living skills.

1981: The YWCA of the National Capital Area dedicated a new headquarters building at 624 Ninth Street NW.

1983: Sponsored the first of five “Women of the year” award programs recognizing trailblazing women.

1990: Celebrated its 90th Anniversary with a variety of events, including a Spring Fashion Show at Hecht’s, a YWCA Month Proclamation, the 100th Anniversary of the World YWCA at the Washington National Cathedral, and Distinguished Leadership Awards, honoring remarkable community members from many walks of life, including Jane Alexander, Elizabeth Campbell, and Wilhelmina Cole Holladay.

1991: Developed a breast cancer education and screening program for low-income women, ENCORE, that was used as a national YWCA model.

1992: The Harrison Center for Career Education moved to the Ninth Street facility and offered expanded programs and easier access to public transportation through Gallery Place Metro Station. The headquarters was renovated

1993: contracted with the U.S Department of Labor to provide training for women in nontraditional employment. Received a grant from AVON for ENCORE Women’s Health Initiative.

1995: Reintroduced the Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) Program with grants from several private funders, including the Hearst Foundation and the Meyer Foundation.

1996: YWCA members created “Heal the Hate” mural for the annual Week Without Violence. Collaborated with best friends, a school-based prevention program for adolescent girls.

1997: The NEW Program received a grant from the Federal Highway Administration to offer industrial certifications in workplace safety and other areas to students.

1999: A renovation and expansion of the D.C Child Development Center, paid for by the Freddie Mac Foundation, allowed the initiation of the Infant Care Program.

Began a youth mentorship program to get adolescent girls interested in college preparation and setting career goals.

The first annual Fitness Challenge offered both members and non-members access to expert fitness and nutrition knowledge, personal training, and regular gym exercise as a way of developing healthier lifestyles.

A new Racial Justice Essay Contest challenged junior high school students to respond to the theme of fighting racism.

Participated for the first time in the Help the Homeless Walkathon.

YWCA initiates Adopt-A-Family program to celebrate the holidays. Individuals, companies, and organizations are matched with needy families, to give back to the community and spread holiday cheer.

2000: The NEW program doubled in size thanks to a grant from the D.C. Income Maintenance Administration to provide training for low-income parents. The NEW program formed a unique partnership with the D.C. Department of Public Works, the progressive Partners program, which provided twelve entry-level on-the-job training positions for the NEW graduates. The NEW program partnered with Catholic Charities, who provided the “Strong Parents , Strong Children” parenting program. The NEW program participated in the Washington Post’s ‘Inside the Washington Post” integrated curriculum resource program, receiving a daily delivery of the newspaper for NEW participants.

Dramatically increased its presence in the Help the Homeless Walkathon, with 180 people walking, and over $45,000 raised.

2001: ENCORE: Mind , Body, spirit, a breast cancer support and recovery program, was launched with a grant from Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

The NEW program received a grant from the University of the District of Columbia to support academic education, targeting GED completion. A grant from the Department of Human Services allowed the NEW program to set up a computer lab.

The Harrison Center for Career Education’s practical Nursing program established two new clinical affiliations as well as the Executive Women’s International Scholarship.ESL and math tutorials were offered to students, and a computer lab was set up. A second PEO chapter was added

2002: A youth program for girls was introduced to provide inner city girls with opportunities to participate in team sports and mentoring activities.

One of four pilot YWCA associations, the YWCA/NCA partnered with Citigroup to launch the YWCA/Citigroup Financial Empowerment Program, which aimed to help low-to moderate income women and their families achieve financial security and independence through basic Financial Literacy linked to Savings for Assets.

The Harrison Center established a GED scholarship program.

YWCA of the USA and Pfizer Inc. fund the Moving Past Trauma: PTSD Community Outreach Program, to educate public health officials concerning the short and long-term effects of PTSD on large communities ,especially as it relates to the aftermath of terrorist attacks.

YWCA Board of Directors engages in a Strategic Planning process, setting priorities for the next several years .The plan serves as a guiding force for budgeting and programmatic decisions.

2003: A sluggish economy and reductions in foundation and government grant making force many nonprofits, including the YWCA, to make difficult programmatic adjustments. The Northern Virginia Child Development Center remains open. The fitness & Aquatics Center remains open. The Harrison Center remains open. Adopt-A-Family program continues. Membership costs and benefits remain stable.

The YWCA offers a Summer Camp through the fitness & Aquatics Center, enrolling over 30 children in its first year.

2011: "Bridges to Work" Adult Literacy and Workforce Development program was launched in October. Serving women between the ages of 18-21 who are interested in increasing their reading and math skills.

2012: YWCA NCA relocates to the U Street area in Northwest Washington DC.

2015: YWCA NCA programming focuses on Adult Education and Training, Youth Development and Advocacy.

2016: After careful thought and consideration, the Northern Virginia Child Development center closes to allow YWCA NCA to focus in on primary services in Education & Training and Youth Development.



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