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Youth Development

The YWCA has long advocated for the health and safety of women and girls. We pioneered the first safe residence and child care center in the nation.  The YWCA is the largest provider of battered women’s shelters and domestic violence services in the country, serving over 500,000 women and children annually.

In 1885 a group of Syracuse women decided to create a local branch of the Young Women’s Christian Association to help young women who had moved to the city for work with safe affordable housing.  Additionally the Association offered a number of clubs, classes, social and cultural events.
It also advocated, as part of the National YWCA Organization, for labor laws to protect women and children and provided care for the children of young working mothers.

In 1912 the Syracuse YWCA organized the Campfire girls program for school-age girls.
In 1917 the Association became the owner of the assembly grounds on Tully lake and opened Camp Avalon for girls. For those girls who could not leave the city, the association began a day camp in 1938.
Camp Avalon was sold in 1979.

1988 was the beginning of our School Age Child Care Program. Since that time, our Out of School Time programs have provided developmentally appropriate activities for children ages 5-12 years old in many school districts in Onondaga County.

In 2007, Girls Incorporated of CNY merged with the YWCA Syracuse & Onondaga County. Girls Incorporated at the YWCA inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and boldSM. Girls Inc. provides programs that encourage girls to take risks and master physical, intellectual and emotional challenges.

Our Girls Incorporated program offers research based programing through a girls Out of School Time program, a teen program, Camp Discovery for girls and two career exploration conferences along with various workshops highlighting financial literacy, math science & technology education, sports and fitness, pregnancy prevention, media literacy & body image.