New York Life Foundation awards $1 million grant to the YMCA of Greater New York.

Filling the Gap: YMCA Y Scholars Middle School Program tackles the Achievement Gap

NEW YORK, N.Y., October 20, 2014—The YMCA of Greater New York announced today that it received a four-year, $1 million grant from the New York Life Foundation to expand the Y Scholars Middle School Program. The Y Scholars Program is currently offered at 19 sites throughout the five boroughs of New York and serves more than 1,200 children. The grant will allow the Y to expand to four additional middle school sites, reaching at least 400 additional children in New York City.

The Y Scholars Middle School program helps students in underserved neighborhoods and under resourced schools better prepare for their futures as life-long learners as they begin their pathway to college. The program fosters the academic, social and emotional skills necessary to succeed in high school and eventually college by providing 120 program hours during the school year, which includes academic assistance, leadership, civic affairs and volunteer service learning. In addition, because studies have found that getting teens to exercise and focus on fitness reduces risky behaviors and facilitates school success, the Y gives students membership cards that give these youth free access to their local YMCA branch.

The generous grant from New York Life Foundation will also allow the Y to update its Middle School Program curriculum as well as provide free SHSAT prep at each site, giving these underserved students a greater chance of entering into one New York City’s prestigious specialized high schools which increases their likelihood of entering and completing college.

“We would like to extend heartfelt thanks to our friends at the New York Life Foundation for helping the Y to expand into four additional middle schools,” said Gary Laermer, Chief development officer of the YMCA of Greater New York. “This generous gift gives even more kids in those critical middle school years the support and resources they need to have the most meaningful and fulfilling academic careers.”

“We are pleased that more New York City youth will be able to benefit from the YMCA of Greater New York’s Y Scholars Program,” said Heather Nesle, president of the New York Life Foundation. “By providing young people a holistic mix of educational and youth development support services that foster college aspiration, this program not only greatly improves the likelihood of high school graduation, but it helps a high percentage of teens become college students.”

About the New York Life Foundation

Inspired by New York Life’s tradition of service and humanity, the New York Life Foundation has, since its founding in 1979, provided nearly more than $185 million in charitable contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations. The Foundation supports programs that benefit young people, particularly in the areas of educational enhancement and childhood bereavement. The Foundation also encourages and facilitates the community involvement of employees, agents, and retirees of New York Life through its Volunteers for Good program. To learn more, please visit

About the YMCA of Greater New York

The YMCA of Greater New York is, and always will be, dedicated to building healthy, confident, connected and secure children, adults, families and communities. With a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y nurtures the potential of every youth and teen, improves New York City’s health and well-being and provides opportunities to give back and support neighbors. In scores of neighborhoods across the five boroughs and its camp upstate, the Y makes accessible the support and opportunities that empower more than 500,000 New Yorkers to learn, grow and thrive. Visit Follow us on Twitter @ymcanyc and Facebook at or visit

Further Reading

Talk it through with an expert.

We're here to help.

get started