The Y does not exist in a vacuum. We are here to serve the community and to address critical needs in order to help strengthen the community. The challenges are not small but they can be addressed and significantly impacted through a focused, purposeful effort. Our strategic plan starts with a clear-eyed assessment of some of the most pressing social challenges before us:
Early Childhood Education, Youth Development and Closing the Achievement Gap are Investments in a Stronger Tomorrow
- Maryland consistently receives high marks for academic quality and performance when compared to other states. However, it also has one of the most dramatic achievement gaps, as its disadvantaged students (who live primarily in poorer neighborhoods) continue to lag far behind their more affluent peers.
- From a very young age, underserved children are arriving at school without the preparation, and social and cognitive skills needed to achieve in the school setting. This deficiency only widens over time, resulting in 96% of the state’s highest income students graduating from high school compared to an unacceptably low 63% of students in the lowest economic quartile graduating.
- Avoidable shortfalls in academic achievement impose heavy consequences including lower earnings, poor health and higher rates of incarceration. The achievement gap has far reaching implications on the health and well-being of individuals and our communities.
- As the largest provider of early childhood programs in the region, the Y will continue to ensure its Y Preschool and Y Head Start children are fully ready for kindergarten, regardless of income.
Health and Well-being, Beyond Fitness and Nutrition, are Investments in a Thriving Community
- Many chronic diseases are preventable with early intervention and education regarding physical activity, nutrition education and access to care.
- The data clearly demonstrate that significant health disparities exist across the state and region. Too often, race and zip code are determining one’s lifespan and quality of life. This requires innovative, culturally appropriate solutions.
- The Y is well positioned to partner with health care providers in the region to help support behaviors and provide education to improve health and fitness metrics that affect lifestyle change and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
- Well-being is essential for the complete health and wellness of individuals and communities. Well-being allows for a holistic view which is necessary for comprehensive, sustainable change and positive impact for individuals, families, seniors and health seekers.
Social Responsibility is the Investment in Quality of Life and the Sense of Belonging for Individuals, Organizations and Communities
- Social science research tells us that, deep down, all of us desire a sense of belonging and look for ways to be part of a broader, more diversified and inclusive community. As life has become more complicated and fragmented, and as neighborhoods become more homogenous from a socio-economic standpoint, this pursuit eludes many.
- The Y has a large geographic footprint and we are challenged to move from being “in” the community to becoming “part” of the community.
- In order to address the systemic issues around our advocating on behalf of healthy living, youth development and social responsibility, the Y will take an active role in addressing relevant public policies and regulations.
- We have a wealth of expertise and strong partnerships that will allow us to responsibly lend our voice to advocate on issues that are important to our work and mission while maintaining a non-partisan political position.