Diversity, Inclusion and Global Programs | Denver YMCA

Diversity, Inclusion and Global Programs

YMCA of Metropolitan Denver: A DIG Innovation YMCA!

The YMCA is a diverse organization of people joined together by a shared commitment to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive through the YMCA. As such, the Denver Y has been recognized by Y-USA as a Diversity, Inclusion and Global Innovation YMCA, making it one of the 81 YMCAs nationwide to have this designation. As a DIG Innovation Y, the Denver YMCA supports developing and pursuing diversity and inclusion practices and global strategies that help us connect and strengthen our communities.

Part of this commitment involves the Y's Diversity, Inclusion, and Global Strategies (DIG) Committee, which brings together 36 members from every Denver YMCA branch, including YMCA Board Members, staff, trustees, and community leaders who intentionally and continuously strive to promote an inclusive organizational culture that values all dimensions of diversity, strengthens inclusion, and builds global community in the U.S. and abroad.

DIG Mission Statement

By prioritizing diversity, inclusion, and global strategies, the DIG Committee works to ensure that everyone has equitable access to the Y. We also strive to make sure everybody feels welcome and is fully engaged as participants, members, staff and volunteers. The Y is a force for building bridges among all people to advance our cause of strengthening community.

DIG Innovation Ys are guided by the following principles:

  • Lead with empathy in all interactions and activities
  • Recognize, value and embrace all dimensions of diversity and work toward the greatest possible inclusion
  • Foster a safe exchange of ideas, beliefs and perspectives within and through the Y locally and globally
  • Advance social equity and bridge-building across and within all communities

The following are some of the many ways the DIG Committee is focused on diversity, inclusion and global engagement.

Diversity and Inclusion

  • Diverse and underserved communities - Y programs include and welcome members of the LGBTQ community, veterans, and those with health disparities.
  • Respite Recreational Program -  This is a sensory, social, and recreational program for children with sensory, developmental, and social disabilities.
  • Refugee Initiatives – Refugee employment and collaboration is fostered with the Littleton Immigrant Resource Center, International Rescue Committee, African Community Center, State of Colorado Refugee Program, and Aurora Public School International Family Engagement Event, and others.

Through the partnership with the International Rescue Committee, the YMCA is providing 30 refugee children with eight weeks of summer day camp, featuring field trips, slacklining lessons, yoga, team-building activities, and the English Language Learners mentorship program. 

  • Welcoming Week - Created by Y-USA’s national partner Welcoming America, this event celebrates the growing movement to fully embrace new Americans and their contributions to the social fabric of our country.
  • Youth Education – This educational program teaches youth about countries and cultures.
  • Rehab Programs – The Y hosts community-integrated health programs to increase outreach for improved health outcomes.
  • Togetherhood program – This Y program connects people from all backgrounds to plan and carry out volunteer projects.Community outreach - Interns from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver researched Y demographics and how the YMCA can best serve diverse neighborhoods. The study identified areas in which the DIG Committee can connect with changing populations and newcomers.​
  • Y-USA staff training – Y staff regularly take part in lessons such as Dimensions of Diversity and Cultural Lenses, which promote understanding.

Global Engagement

  • Nicaragua YMCA Official Partnership - The YMCA of Metropolitan Denver began a relationship with the Nicaragua YMCA in 2010 and signed a partnership agreement in April 2013. The Denver Y continues to participate in staff/volunteer exchanges and quarterly conference calls and provide financial support to the Nicaragua YMCA.
  • Uruguay YMCA - The YMCA of Metropolitan Denver has a rewarding relationship with the Uruguay YMCA and its director general, Jesús Ithurralde.  
  • International visitors - The DIG Committee welcomes visitors from YMCAs both nearby and abroad.
  • World Service – The Y provides financial support to YMCA World Service, which unites Ys in 119 countries in providing programs and services.   
  • Sioux YMCA - The Denver YMCA has been a friend of the Sioux YMCA in South Dakota since the early 1970s, leading program exchanges and providing financial and in-kind donations.
  • Friends Abroad - Through this international exchange program, YMCA members, program participants, volunteers, and staff who travel abroad can visit and connect with other YMCA “Friends Abroad.”

DIG Committee projects are funded by allocations from YMCA annual campaigns, individual and corporate donations, and “Who Knew” events. For more information, or to donate to the DIG Committee, please contact:

Debbie Ford, YMCA staff representative at 720 323 6629 or dford@denverymca.org

Joe Sprague, Denver YMCA DIG Committee Chair at joeclc@aol.com

Additional Information

Sept 2017 DIG Newsletter

Includes visit to the Sioux Y, Poland & Uruguay

March 2017 DIG Newsletter

Includes Opportunities for All at the YMCA

August 2016 DIG Newsletter

Includes Visit to the Nicaraguan YMCA