About YMCA Europe

YMCA Europe is a leading organization dedicated to empowering young people, promoting community development, and fostering social justice. With a rich history and a commitment to positive change, YMCA Europe plays a pivotal role in creating impactful initiatives for youth across the continent.

Taking into consideration that the YMCA was founded in England, it extended quickly across our continent, involving young people from a large diversity of local communities.

The European Alliance of YMCAs (EAY) was created by several national YMCAs in 1973* with the purpose of setting a collective direction of the European movement and strengthening the work of the YMCA across the continent. Soon the initiative was followed by other national movements and an official structure of volunteers and staff was created.

The first seat of EAY was established in Kassel, Germany in the mid 70´s. Later it was moved to St. Gallen, Switzerland and then to Prague in the Czech Republic. Learn more from the Heritage page.

EAY focused on the development of YMCAs in Southern Europe throughout the 80´s in partnership with the World Alliance of YMCAs and the YMCA of the USA. A crucial historic moment that helped shaping the strategy of the European Alliance was the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Many local and national YMCAs were re-founded in Eastern Europe and their facilities were brought back to the movement after decades. The role of our European umbrella organization was fundamental in providing guidance, resources and capacity to the new members.

The full denomination of the umbrella organization (European Alliance of YMCAs) was transformed into a more practical and contemporary name – YMCA Europe – even if in our Constitution the official name was kept.

In 2016 a representation office was opened in Brussels, Belgium in order to strengthen the voice and profile of YMCA Europe among the key European institutions and other civil society organizations.

YMCA Europe is a member-based organization, made up of National Movements, each of which is an independent YMCA operating in a specific country or region.

The organization is governed by General Assembly. An Executive Committee is formed by volunteers is elected among the membership of YMCA Europe and a decentralized staff team operates and delivers the Strategic Plan and priorities adopted by the member YMCAs.

YMCA Europe works closely with other regional and international organizations to promote the interests of the YMCA movement and to advocate for the rights and needs of young people and vulnerable communities.

Some of the main activities of YMCA Europe include:

  • Promoting the values and principles of the YMCA movement across Europe
  • Facilitating cooperation and collaboration between YMCAs in the region
  • Advocating for the needs and concerns of YMCAs and the people they serve
  • Supporting the development of new and existing YMCAs through training, capacity building and networking opportunities.

It’s important to note that different YMCA organizations may have different programs and services depending on the location, and the programs and services offered may vary depending on the location. The activities of YMCA Europe can also vary depending on the context, location and the resources available.

Today there are 36 national YMCAs in Europe and 29 of them are full members of YMCA Europe. The rest are co-operating YMCAs. Collective there are more than 3,200 local YMCAs, involving more than 95,000 volunteers and approximately 18,500 members of staff, impacting over 2,000,000 beneficiaries.

Our Strategy, aligned with Vision 2030, is shaped to be responsive to the current change and evolution across Europe, reflective of the diversity of Europe and uniting in our desire to strengthen the inclusivity of the YMCA across the Continent.