The mission of the YMCA of Greater Providence is to build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all, through programs, services, and relationships that are based upon our core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility.


  • Caring – We nurture and guard the well-being of youth and adults; and we promote healthy lifestyles, self-esteem, self-reliance, optimism, and fun.
  • Honesty – We trust and earn the trust of others through integrity, honesty, collaboration, tolerance, and consistent self-appraisal.
  • Respect – We believe all people have worth; we embrace diversity, and we always treat people with respect.
  • Responsibility – We use our resources responsibly and act in the interest of the entire community.


The Y was formed in 1844, in London, England, by a young drapery clerk, George Williams, and 11 other young men who shared his concern with the decadence and immorality of 19th-century London. A retired American sea captain, Thomas Sullivan, brought the Y to Boston in 1851.

Soon, chapters were formed throughout the United States and Canada, and later, throughout the world. The early emphasis on religious understanding was soon augmented by programs in the arts, education, and gymnastics, setting the stage for modern Y programming centered on youth, fitness, and recreation. Now, the Y is a non-denominational organization that is still inspired and guided by positive values and is welcoming to all.

Over the years, YMCAs have led the way for a host of activities that help define America as we know it. James Naismith, a physical education teacher at the YMCA Training School (Springfield College), invented basketball in 1891 and W. G. Morgan invented volleyball at the Holyoke YMCA in 1895. Lifeguards at every beach and pool in America can trace their roots to the Y. The organization has also set standards in community recreation, non-profit capital fundraising, and community disaster relief, among many other services.

Today the Y is as diverse and strong as it has ever been. With a focus on “Activating America,” addressing issues of childhood obesity and lifestyle-related chronic diseases in adults, the Y is prioritizing efforts to support its members as they focus on living healthy lifestyles.