Embedded in the Community for Over 140 Years

For more than 145 years, the YMCA of Metro Denver has been committed to helping our community be a better place for all by meeting some of our greatest needs. Take a look at some of the highlights throughout our history:

1875: The Denver YMCA forms on December 30 when 13 men and three women gather at Occidental Hall in Denver, the meeting site for the Colorado Constitutional Convention. 

1891: Rooms are leased and programs launch to improve the social, physical, mental and spiritual conditioning of railroad employees.

1896: James Naismith, who invented the game of Basketball in 1891 in Springfield, MA, joined the Denver Y staff and personally introduced the game to Denver. 

1906: On May 30, United States Vice President Charles W. Fairbanks lays the cornerstone for the new permanent home of the Denver YMCA at the corner of 16th Avenue and Lincoln Street, where it remains today.

1914-1917 : Over 101,500 World War I servicemen receive free accommodations, recreation and religious programs at the Y as they travel across the country.

1926: The sport of softball gets its name at the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver. A declaration of principles emphasizing inclusiveness and good sportsmanship is adopted and the sport spreads nationwide.  

1941-1945: During World War II, over two million G.I.s are served by the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver. 

1954:  YMCA Youth In Government, a teen leadership program using the legislative process as a model, begins. High school students from across the state participate at the state capital.

1964: Association operating expense is $911,132 with seven branches in Denver, Littleton and Aurora.

Early 1970s: Local Y branches pioneer child care programs, which are still a pillar of the Y’s work today.

1994: The YMCA formally defines character as the demonstration of four core values: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

2007: A new strategic plan, “Imagine 2012,” is adopted by the Board of Trustees. The YMCA of Metropolitan Denver joins Y-USA’s Activate America program, beginning a path of new health and wellness programs.

2008: A new emphasis on community development leads to partnerships with municipalities and school districts, many of which remain today.

2012: Employment at the YMCA reaches 1,150, the largest number of employed personnel in YMCA of Metropolitan Denver history. Over $897,000 in financial assistance is awarded to members and program participants. 

2014: The Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program gains national recognition, and the focus on increasing student achievement in underserved communities continues through the new learning initiative Power Scholars Academy™.

2015: The Make Waves program launches to provide swim lessons, lifeguard training and water safety instruction in communities with few aquatics resources. New programs help community members fight disease through arthritis classes, CancerFit and Parkinson’s Disease classes.

2016: The YMCA of Metro Denver becomes the number one child services provider in the city, engaging 22,664 youth in sports, child care and swim lessons. More than 1,406 teens take part in Y programs for leadership, achievement and volunteering, including Y Achievers, Kids in Transition Empowerment, Youth in Government and mentoring.

2017: Y-USA recognizes the YMCA of Metro Denver as a Diversity, Inclusion and Global Innovation YMCA – one of 64 YMCAs nationwide to have the designation. The YMCA of Metro Denver expands outreach to children and families, providing quality child care at 83 sites across the metro area.

2018: The YMCA of Metro Denver partners with the International Rescue Committee in Denver to connect refugee families with scholarship and youth programs at the YMCA. President and CEO Jim Hiner retires after a 40-year career with the YMCA, welcoming new President and CEO Sue Glass. 

2020: Responded to the needs of our community as we faced the COVID-19 crisis. Provided emergency child care for essential workers ultimately caring for 170 kids; launched the Beyond Hunger food pantry distributing 222,136 pounds of food to 23,114 people by the end of the year; made 5,300+ calls to members, including seniors, to prevent isolation; saved 2,286 lives through blood donations hosted at the YMCA. As wellness centers reopened and programs came back online, the YMCA continued to offer support to members, program participants and our community.

2021: The YMCA of Metro Denver, in partnership with the Wheatlands Park and Recreation Authority and Wheatlands Metropolitan District, opened the Aurora YMCA at Wheatlands to members on Monday, May 17 making it the first new YMCA location in the Denver area in 20 years. Read more.