Civil Society and Democracy

YMCA and YWCA

The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) has served the military and military families in every U.S. conflict since the Civil War, and had received Rockefeller support almost that long. John D. Rockefeller, Sr., began giving to the YMCA in the 1880s. YMCA activities have included services for immigrants, including acculturation to a democratic society, the first night school and English as a Second Language courses in the United States, and programs encouraging high school students to understand and participate in government. In the 1960s, its counterpart, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) provided affordable childcare when women joined the workforce in large numbers. The Fund began giving to the YMCA and YWCA in 1941 and continued through the 1980s. Following World War II, it supported the World Youth Fund for Restoration and Advance, which restored YMCA facilities and provided youth leadership training in war-torn countries as a means of “upholding democratic principles against totalitarian methods and propaganda.”

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Browse the major events in the Rockefeller Brothers Fund's history