Nurturing Potential

Filling the Education Void

Starting in 1885, in the absence of public schools, YMCAs across America offered free serving a global community education through Sunday and mission schools. Beginning in 1899, YMCA Honolulu filled education gaps with night and trade schools for boys and vocational, college prep and business classes for young men. Today, the YMCA of Honolulu continues to address the “gaps” with “Come with Me,” a free kindergarten- readiness program; “Power Scholars,” a summer enrichment program for struggling middle- school students; and “YMCA College Camp” to motivate underserved high school students to pursue higher education.

Boys’ Clubs for All

In 1883, with a brand new building and room to spare, YMCA Honolulu established a Boys’ Branch for members’ younger relatives and friends. In 1899, Boys’ Clubs were added to extend opportunities for sports, character- building and enrichment to underserved boys throughout the city—including those living in plantations and O‘ahu’s most isolated communities.

Keeping Kids Ahead and Fed

The YMCA Honolulu was— and continues to be— a leader in youth development. During the plantation era, Boys' club and “vacation school” were the forerunner of today's school break programs. During WWII, the Y expanded the program in support of working parents. In the 1960s as Hawai'i transitioned toward double-income families, the Y initiated afterschool care for latchkey kids.  Today, the Y provides free lunch for underserved children in their school break programs to ensure the one meal they count on will always be available. 

Y Boys Club Leaders. By 1929, YMCA Honolulu was doing more work for boys of lower income than any Y on the mainland—with 204 Boys’ Clubs throughout rural O‘ahu. By 1939, there were Boys’ Clubs in ‘Aiea, ‘Ewa, Hau‘ula, Halemano, Honouliuli, Ka‘a‘awa, Kahuku, Kailua, Kane‘ohe, Kawailoa, Kipapa, Kunia, La‘ie, Leilehua, Nānākuli, Pearl City, Wahiawā, Waiāhole, Waialua, Wai‘anae, Waimānalo, Waipahu, and Waipi‘o—all run by Y volunteers. 
In 1970, YMCA Honolulu created afterschool care to offer a safe alternative for Hawai‘i’s growing number of “latchkey” kids. When the State of Hawai‘i decided to launch universal afterschool care, known as the A+ Program, the Y shared resources and trained providers—enabling the State program to launch within a year. Today, the Y remains the leading A+ provider, serving over 7,000 keiki with before and afterschool care.
Held in underserved communities, YMCA “Come with Me” brings together toddlers not attending preschool and their caregivers to ensure each child is “kindergarten-ready” for a successful start in their education journey.

Teens ➔