From the New York Times:
One of the nation’s most iconic nonprofit organizations, founded 166 years ago in England as the Young Men’s Christian Association, is undergoing a major rebranding, adopting as its name the nickname everyone has used for generations.
“It’s a way of being warmer, more genuine, more welcoming, when you call yourself what everyone else calls you,” said Kate Coleman, the organization’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer.
Realistically speaking, the Y has had the "men's Christian organization" out of it for decades now. It was founded in 1844; a part of the first great awakening: a religious movement responsible for, among other things, ending slavery in the West. It was designed to keep young men moving to the big cities during the industrial revolution away from temptation, and give them a place to exert themselves in a positive way. Its foundational principles are "healthy spirit," "healthy mind" and "healthy body." Now, it's "youth development," "healthy living" and "social responsibility"-typical meaningless virtue words of the early 21st century. The links to their new mission statements are worth a look; they sound like something out of an ACORN mission statement.
We are a powerful ally and advocate for our communities. Our experience and strong relationships in 10,000 neighborhoods across the nation mean that we are able to organize grassroots efforts and influence public policy around a range of social issues including child welfare, education and public health.
Serving families has always been at the heart of the Y.
Among the cultural innovations of the YMCA: invention of the game of Basketball, educational reform in pre-communist China, foundation of several colleges and universities, invention of the idea of "night school," and countless charitable activities during wars. Since the 1960s it's been a public policy NGO with a gym franchise. Even the Village People aren't amused by the change. Kind of hard to rebel against the old prune-faced christian and male YMCA now that it's run by the same prune faces who run everything else.