A Y team member reads with two young boys during the YMCA's afterschool program. He is smiling while they look at the open book together.

Greensboro, N.C., August 15, 2022 – North Carolina YMCAs are helping students build relationship skills and manage their emotions, which improves academic performance, confidence and behavior in the classroom and beyond.

Data shows North Carolina YMCAs’ investment in professional development around character development is paying off in student progress and counter-acting pandemic-related learning loss. According to the NC Alliance of YMCAs, which tested 3,100 youth between February and May to assess the impact of its afterschool programs, 87% improved in at least one character development competency and 66% in two or more of the five competencies. 

Even during this short period of time, the data indicates that children further developed important skills; this is worth celebrating during a school year with ongoing COVID-19 challenges.

“Additional support for students has never been more critical,” said Sherée Vodicka, CEO of the NC Alliance of YMCAs. “Beyond the significant learning loss caused by the pandemic, students also lack the socialization skills to succeed and thrive after spending so much time isolated from other children.” 

Vodicka shared that the NC Department of Instruction (DPI) provided grant funding to the Ys to support their work with youth; this aligns with the state’s goals to partner with community organizations to help students succeed in school, work, and life by learning to manage emotions, problem-solve and build relationships with people who are different from them. The grant provided access to real-time data utilizing Hello Insight, a tool to collect data before and after the character development training for YMCA staff. 

“We have seen students struggle so much during the past school year,” said Ebony Burnett, Senior Association Youth Development Director at YMCA of Greensboro. “Positive youth development practices are the foundation of our afterschool programs; but having more training and the tools to meet these kids where they have really helped our team support their growth during this hard school year. We have been energized to see the data on how the kids have benefitted from our intentional focus on social and emotional learning.” 

The Y’s afterschool programs leverage best practices to help foster children’s cognitive, social-emotional and physical development through opportunities and experiences in a safe, fun and enriching environment. Across the state, during the 2021-2022 school year, NC Ys served X children in before- and afterschool programs, and engaged X teens in mentoring, tutoring and other supportive programs to help them thrive. Visit ncymcas.org to find local YMCA afterschool programs in North Carolina.

About the NC Alliance of YMCAs
The YMCA is a nonprofit community benefit organization that collectively serves 1 million people statewide, including children, adults and seniors. The North Carolina Alliance of YMCAs is a nonprofit corporation representing the 25 independent YMCA associations in the state. Its purpose is to build the capacity of all the state’s YMCAs, foster collaboration on statewide initiatives through effective partnerships, advocate on behalf of the YMCA’s mission and cause with elected officials and stakeholders at the local, state, and national levels; and coordinate communication to build consensus that ensures YMCAs are recognized as leaders in youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. For more information, please visit ncymas.org

About the YMCA of Greensboro
The YMCA of Greensboro was founded in 1889 with a mission to put Judeo-Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Through its seven branches and YMCA Camp Weaver, the YMCA of Greensboro is strengthening the foundations of our community by offering a warm and friendly environment where people of all ages, races, faiths, beliefs, and physical and financial abilities participate in programs and experiences that make a positive difference in their lives. For more information on the YMCA of Greensboro, visit ymcagreensboro.org.