Ann Arbor YMCA receives $80,000 grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation


The Ann Arbor YMCA has been awarded a generous grant from The Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) and Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation through the new Regional Sports 4 Life program to fund the Young Women Making Waves Program, a swim program for under-served girls in eastern Washtenaw County that moves them from having no swim experience and progresses them through a series of stages that build increased efficacy in swimming proficiency and self-confidence, with opportunities for competitive swimming, lifeguard certification and potential employment for those who continue to this level.

The Ann Arbor YMCA is also grateful for the Sports 4 Live founding partner espnW for their vision and commitment to the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation in supporting this regional initiative.

The Ann Arbor YMCA will receive $20,000 annually for four years and will be able to take advantage of the Women’s Sports Foundation’s training, evaluation and networking opportunities. The initial two years of the grant cycle will focus on capacity-building and the second two years on direct programming for girls. The initial check was presented to Arbor YMCA staff by Claressa Shields, WSF Athlete Ambassador and two-time Olympic gold medalist in boxing. The initial stages of the program will launch on June 1.

When fully operational, the program will be delivered two to three days a week for 35 weeks during the school year and for six weeks during the summer. Participants will enroll for a 12-month season and will be exposed to a curriculum that begins with basic water safety skills for new swimmers and progresses to allow participation in competitive swimming.

As participants become more proficient, program options will expand to include synchronized swim lessons and competitions. Strong swimmers that are 16 years of age or older will be invited to attend lifeguard trainings, and with certification, will be eligible to apply for part-time employment in lifeguard positions at the Y. As a leader in aquatics programming, the Y is well-positioned to provide this innovative swim program.

YMCA Swim & Synchro instructors will deliver the weekly lessons and facilitate swim team practices. The Y’s partners, including Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti Community Schools, McKinley Properties, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department, the Ypsilanti Housing Commission and Rutherford Pool, will assist with marketing the program to the community and with recruitment of participants. The Ann Arbor YMCA hopes to reach up to 150 girls with this program.

For more information about this program, please contact Becky Epstein, Ann Arbor YMCA Aquatics Director at or 734.661.8020.

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