Do you work at the Y and need financial assistance for college? You might be eligible for a YMCA scholarship. Read on to learn what options are available for part-time and full-time employees of the YMCA.

A lot of people are already familiar with the YMCA - or the “Y” as some people call it. For many, it defined their childhood.

What most people don’t know, however, is the origin of the club. The organization began as the Young Men’s Christian Association, providing affordable and safe housing in a Christian environment for young men.

The roots of the organization date back to the 1800’s and the YMCA quickly expanded across the globe, with YMCAs in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the US by 1851.

Now, the YMCA focuses on bettering communities and enhancing opportunities across the globe. If you work with the YMCA or are thinking about starting a career with the organization, take a look at the scholarship opportunities that are available to you.


YMCA Scholarship Opportunities

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There are both local and federal scholarship opportunities through the YMCA, and the amount varies depending on the grant offerings. You should check with your local YMCA and see if they have any scholarships for members - as the YMCA restricts their national scholarships to current employees of the organization.

If you have worked for the YMCA for at least a year, however, you are free to apply for their national scholarship programs - many of them at a school of our choice. Read our “Scholarship Offerings” section for more information about the specifics of each scholarship opportunity.


Local Scholarships

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A YMCA scholarship isn’t relegated to the national and international brand. There are a lot of scholarships at the local level, which allow applicants to stand out from a small pool, compared to that of their national scholarship offerings.

You should first look at the local YMCA scholarships if you’re interested in help paying for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. These smaller outlets will be able to offer a level of financial assistance for a few candidates - albeit at a lower amount of money.

Applying for these local scholarships - as well as the national ones - will give you the best chance of acceptance. You might not receive as much money from the local branches, but they can offer a level of support. Some don’t even require you to be a lifelong YMCA member.


YMCA Scholarships

YMCA Scholars

There is also a variety of national scholarships available from the YMCA. These scholarships are restricted to those who have been working at a local YMCA for at least a year, and that YMCA has to follow the proper protocol set out by the national YMCA association.


How do They Work?

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A YMCA scholarship works on a reimbursement basis. This means that if the organization awards you with a YMCA scholarship, they also require you to pay for the college bills out of your pocket and send them a reimbursement request in the future.

There is also no set amount for any of the YMCA scholarship opportunities. Funding for each varies from year to year, and you might be entitled to more money one year than you will be the next.

The scholarships themselves are also subject to change. You should visit the YMCA grant website to make sure all of these scholarships are up-to-date for the current year. We took the scholarships we listed below from the 2017-2018 YMCA scholarship calendar.

You can apply for scholarships as many times as you remain eligible, including every year until you graduate. You can apply from March through May, and the YMCA will contact you by late July with their decision.

You will apply through the YMCA online portal and need your branch number when you set up your profile.

Reimbursement usually takes around four to six weeks to complete. The YMCA scholarship only covers course reimbursement, so you can’t use it for books, travel, or meals. When requesting reimbursement, you need to send the YMCA the following information via mail.


  • Invoice or proof of payment
  • Transcript and proof of enrollment
  • Name and address for reimbursement


Scholarship Offerings

Scholarship Offerings

Ahead are the available scholarships for part-time and full-time YMCA staff members. You can apply during the application period of each year, through the YMCA online application portal.


Solon B. Cousins YMCA Scholarship

The Solon B. Cousins YMCA Scholarship is available to students who have been accepted to either Springfield College or George Williams College of Aurora University. Both of these schools have a history of supporting and training YMCA professionals, which is why the scholarship grant focuses on these specific institutions.

You won’t need a YMCA Leadership Certification for this scholarship like you do for some of the others, but you must demonstrate career goals that show commitment to the YMCA. This scholarship wants to help those who are striving to become role models in the YMCA community.

Human services experience is a massive plus to this scholarship, and a resume showing this experience will give you the best chance of acceptance. You can send your resume with your application to tell the organization why you deserve the grant.


William A. Hunton Fellowship Fund

William A. Hunton was the first full-time staff member of the YMCA in 1888, and the scholarship in his name continues his memory. The Fellowship Fund awards minority YMCA staff members with the financial opportunity to continue their education and become YMCA professionals in the long-term.

This scholarship is open to current full-time and part-time staff who are of Hispanic/ Latino, African American, Asian/Pacific Islander or Native American/ Alaskan descent. These individuals need to complete at least one course that would lead them to YMCA Leadership Certification, though it does not require full certification.

You must also show that your goals align with becoming a YMCA professional and that you will continue to pursue these goals after college.


John R. Mott Scholarship

John R. Mott Scholarship is for YMCA Senior Directors who want to better themselves through further education. The scholarship is available to graduate students to help them become better YMCA professionals and advance their career through the organization.

The John R. Mott scholarship requires its applicants to have a Multi-Team Leader Certification or Organizational Leader Certification to apply. You must also show that your goals align with continuing a career at the YMCA.

Earl P. Armstrong Scholarship

The Earl P. Armstrong Scholarship is another scholarship designed to assist those continuing their career through graduate education. Like the John R. Mott Scholarship, the Earl P. Armstrong Scholarship is available to senior directors who want to “enhance their professional performance and career mobility,” according to the description on their website.

The Earl P. Armstrong Scholarship holds special significance in the YMCA community. Not only was Earl P. Armstrong an influential member, but he was the first-ever recipient of the John R. Mott Scholarship. The organization later created the Earl P. Armstrong Scholarship so that it could do the same thing for others in the community.

In order to receive this scholarship, you must have at least three years of professional experience at the YMCA, as well as a Multi-Team Leader Certification or Organizational Leader Certification. Your career goals must also include advancing through the YMCA leadership program and becoming a leadership figure in the organization.


Carolyn Creager Multicultural Leadership Development Fund

The YMCA designed the Carolyn Creager Multicultural Leadership Development Fund to advance the leadership opportunities of a diverse group of YMCA staff members. This scholarship is limited to minority applicants who need financial assistance to attend college. These groups include people of Asian/Pacific Islander, African, African American.


Hispanic/Latino or Native American ancestry

This fund requires specific application instructions, unlike the above-mentioned scholarship opportunities with the Y. Anyone with a background listed above and leadership experience in the YMCA organization can apply for this scholarship.

Unlike some of the other grants the YMCA offers, those who receive funding from the Carolyn Creager Multicultural Leadership Fund can use their money for activities and training, as well as any travel expenses they might incur.


Fred Hoshiyama Asian Leadership Scholarship

The Fred Hoshiyama Asian Leadership Scholarship provides YMCA staff of Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry with financial support for learning and development through continuing education.

Candidates can use this scholarship for both undergraduate and postgraduate learning but must complete at least one or two training or certification requirements for the group to accept them. This scholarship is a joint effort from the YMCA and the Asian Leadership Resources Network.

In order to apply, you must have worked at the YMCA for at least one year, and receive continuous satisfactory feedback from your superiors. A letter of recommendation will also go a long way toward obtaining this scholarship. You must also state your intent for these funds upon application, and use them for those purposes if the YMCA accepts you.

After you receive these funds, you must remain employed by the YMCA for up to 12 months. After that, you are eligible to receive reimbursement from the Fred Hoshiyama Asian Leadership Scholarship. Check our section above and the YMCA website for the guidelines on how to receive reimbursement.


YMCA Scholarships

All of these scholarships require that you are a full-time or part-time employee of the YMCA. It’s never too late to get involved and put your name in the discussion for a scholarship with the Y.

Visit the YMCA website for any updates on the available scholarships through the organization. They might change from year to year, so follow closely and apply for any for which you feel qualified.



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