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New York YMCA planning records

Identifier: Y.GNY.79


The records of the Planning Department of the YMCA of Greater New York include both final copies and drafts of strategic, operational and long range plans for departments and branches. The collection also includes Planning Committee minutes and agendas, statements of goals and objectives, and forms, workbooks and training materials used to develop plans. Although plan information is available for all branches, the collection emphasizes planning for Brooklyn, Bronx, Camping Services and McBurney branches. In addition to plans for branches and departments, the collection includes plans for fundraising and for capital projects. The collection also includes studies, reports and statistical materials that provide information used to identify future needs for planning and fundraising.


  • 1928-1996


Conditions Governing Access

Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.


The planning process at the YMCA in New York City was informal before World War II. Like other institutions and corporations, planning at the Y was conducted by members of the Board of Directors, Board of Trustees and branch boards of managers. In some instances, plans were driven by the availability of money from donors who wished to make gifts. In other cases, plans were postponed or abandoned entirely because of a lack of funds.

In the early years, plans were often wish lists. Plans to establish new branches were often driven by anecdotal evidence because data was not readily available. Consequently, needs were not always well-established. For example, plans to build a new branch in northern Manhattan in the early years of the 20th century were tied to the opening of an extended subway line. However, the branch failed to perform well even after the completion of the line and the Y closed the branch after only a few years. Behind the drive to build this branch had been the observation that there was no Y branch in northern Manhattan. Whether one was actually needed had been unknown.

In some instances, the YMCA in New York was reactive. It identified specific problems and determined ways to address those problems. For example, during and after World War II, the Y noted that young men who had recently been soldiers or sailors needed help finding jobs and careers. The Vocational Service Center emerged from discussions about the problem. During those years, the Board of Directors appointed a Planning Board charged with conducting a survey of the Association's constituency to identify needs and develop plans to meet those needs that included buildings and finances.

As in other large non-profit institutions, planning and fund-raising were often linked together at the New York YMCA. In the 1954 annual report, for example, the Y announced the need to remodel and refurbish multiple branches after conducting a “careful study.” At the same time, the organization announced its intention to tie these projects to fund-raising conducted during the Centennial in 1952 and in subsequent years.

The 1954 annual report also reflected the growing inclusion of hard data in the planning process. For example, the report referenced statistics about demographic changes in the city that reflected growing birth rates among non-whites. The reported noted the increase in the Puerto Rican population and also observed that in the future the Y would need to raise funds to support the inclusion of lower-income boys and youth in its programs. In short, by 1954, the planning process was more systematic and based on much better information.

The 1956 merger between the Brooklyn and New York organization highlighted the need to develop a unified planning process. A Planning Committee that reported to the Board of Directors was organized in 1957. In 1959, the Y created the executive position of Director of Research and Planning to coordinate planning efforts. The position was first held by Clement “Pete” Duran, a longtime New York Y executive.

In 1962, the Planning Committee completed a self-study that involved 1000 laymen and staff. The results of this study included a definition of the Y’s primary constituency (boys and young men ages 9-35) as well as program priorities (character and leadership development, responsible citizenship, interracial and interreligious understanding, physical fitness, self-awareness and life work and parenthood).

By the late 1960s, planning became even more formal. The Y established a Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) that ordered position papers on subjects that would affect policy choices, althuogh the areas where this would occur were unclear. Around the same time, the need for a strong facilities planning process was reinforced when the organization worked to determine the futures of the Brooklyn Central, Bronx Union and Seamen’s House branches. The MPC was also charged with advising the Board of Directors and the branch boards of managers about mission and goal definition.

In the 1970s, responsibility for corporate planning shifted to the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, which became responsible for strategic, development and implementation planning. Staff committees were formed to maintain communication between staff and executives. A Planning Department that supported and organized these efforts was noted in the 1973 Annual Report.

In the early 1980s, this group released long range, action and strategic plans that shaped the direction of the YMCA for many years. These plans were supported by statistics about employment, population shifts, income levels and other information that not only supported the planning recommendations of the group but determined them. The Y had transitioned away from an organization that decided what it wanted and then either experimented or used data to support (rather than determine) its course of action. Its planning process had become driven by data.

Information taken from annual reports and from the collection


20.5 Cubic Feet (27 boxes)

Language of Materials



The records consist of strategic, operational and long-range plans for departments and branches of the YMCA of Greater New York. The collection also includes supporting material such as studies, reports and statistics used to develop the plans.

Processing Information

Catalog Record ID Number: 9974764499201701. Mostly unprocessed.
An Inventory of Its Records
Louise Merriam
August 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area