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The YWCA Dayton works toward the elimination of racism, empowers women to be educated leaders, and supports women in need to be safe and independent. In 1870, seven women joined together to ask of themselves and of the Dayton community what they could do to “elevate women in our midst,” their response became the foundation for the YWCA Dayton. The YWCA Dayton has always positioned itself in the vanguard regarding issues of concern for women and children. In 1886, the Association’s work to eliminate domestic violence began with a petition to the Ohio General Assembly asking for “better legal protection for women against assault.”

The YWCA Dayton’s work to eliminate racism began in 1893 with an officially organized program for African-American women and girls (it was the first YWCA program of its kind in the United States) and in 1932, the YWCA Dayton took a leadership role in racial justice as Mabel Evens became the first African American to join our Board of Directors.

In 1905 the first Home for Self Supporting Young Women opened with space for 30 women. Today our Single Room Occupancy (SRO) program provides 96 rooms of permanent, low-income housing for single women.

The career needs of professional women were recognized in 1965 when the YWCA Dayton introduced its “Career Clinic” program and our Women of Influence Awards continues this effort today. The Dayton Y provided Montgomery County’s first program specifically designed for unwed mothers in 1967 and in 1974 the Y’s nursery was re-established with an expanded summer program to help working mothers with their child care needs. Today, YWCA Typical Childcare services provide innovative age appropriate programs for children six weeks to five years old and our Homeless Children’s Day Shelter provides Montgomery County’s only services for children whose families are experiencing homelessness.

In the 1930s, free daytime schools were organized to meet the needs of unemployed girls. Today’s Teen Services is committed to educating teenage girls about pregnancy prevention focusing on educational achievement and motivational activities which inspire our clients to be strong, smart, and bold. Members master nationally approved curriculum in the areas of preventing adolescent pregnancy, media literacy, "Friendly Persuasion", economic literacy, leadership and community action and involvement. This innovative program is designed for high risk and under-served girls to help them confront societal messages about their values, self potential, and help prepare them to lead independent, fulfilling lives.

The YWCA Battered Women Project (BWP) was among the first emergency shelters established for victims of domestic violence in the United States.

Launched in 1977 the BWP started out as a one-room facility set aside for emergency shelter, specifically for victims of domestic violence, when the Victimization Center (a county-sponsored program) lost its funding. In April of 1977, the YWCA Board of Director’s Public Affairs Committee submitted a proposal for funding the BWP to the Junior League of Dayton (JLD).

Later that year, a partnership was formed between these two strategic women’s groups that has endured to this day. Over the last 30+ years, the JLD has supported the Y’s Emergency Shelter Services in a variety of ways, from direct monetary support to volunteering in the shelter itself.

In 2003, the JLD “adopted” the shelter’s resources and material goods storeroom, completely renovating and re-stocking our supplies of adult and children’s clothing, personal care items, intimate apparel and children’s toys. It was renamed “Hope’s Closet,” signifying both a concrete manifestation for a future free from violence in the form of material goods as well as symbolizing the less tangible dreams that victims can aspire to realize when they dare to break that cycle of violence. In 2004, the YWCA Dayton was approached by concerned Preble County citizens to assume operation of that county’s domestic violence shelter. Partnering with the HIT Foundation who supplied the duplex, the shelter now provides a safe confidential alternative to the horrors of intimate partner abuse for the women and children of Preble County.

The YWCA Dayton is all about women and children. We have spent the last 140 years serving them. As our communities and the roles of women have changed, so have the services and opportunities that we provide. Our vision and mission statements are living documents reinforcing our commitment to the women and children of the Miami Valley.

The YWCA is committed to advocating on behalf of women and children into the future as well. The work of the Dayton YWCA focuses on achieving a world that is free of barriers to the advancement of women. In our own community, this means providing quality child care that is affordable, helping women and families secure stable housing, advocating for equity in wages, working to eliminate racism in all its forms, eradicating domestic violence, and helping girls and women develop self-esteem and leadership skills to continually improve their lives.

The Dayton YWCA isolates three distinct lines of business through which it actualizes its mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. These are: Shelter & Housing Services, Teen Services and Child Care Services. Overcoming racism and the ability to earn a living wage provide the foundation and the infrastructure from which Hallmark programming flows.