The Y is the leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community by connecting all people to their potential, purpose and each other.
Working locally since 1908, we focus on empowering young people, improving health and well-being, and inspiring action in and across communities.
Our rich history began when George Williams founded the YMCA in 1844. Here’s a snapshot of our many successes over the decades on behalf of the individuals and communities we are privileged to serve.
Watch: History of YMCA Membership
Service to the First Coast
- Located in 5 counties: Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns
- 1 Public Charter Elementary School – YMCA Tiger Academy
- 1 Overnight Camp – Camp Immokalee
- 60+ youth serving program locations
Notable Moments in Our History on the First Coast
Records show the first YMCA in Jacksonville originated in 1870 with J.M. Baker as president. The history of that organization was lost after 1876 and by 1900, there was no longer a Y in Jacksonville.
On February 20, 1908, YUSA approves charter for the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast. A seven-story YMCA opens at the corner of Laura and Duval Streets with a membership of 12 men. Designed by famed architect Henry John Klutho, the Y was framed entirely of reinforced concrete and eventually featured an indoor running track suspended over the gymnasium by cantilevered concrete beams.
- Camp Immokalee established in Keystone Heights
- Jacksonville YMCA reopens after its suspension during the Great Depression
- The Davis Street Branch, now the Johnson Family YMCA, opens, serving the Northside community
- Opening of YMCA in Riverside (later to be renamed the Claude J. Yates Family YMCA)
- Construction begins on swimming pool at YMCA in Riverside
- Membership Drive exceeds goal with 1,358 members
- Dedication of Camp Immokalee Dining Hall, a gift from the Meninak Club of Jacksonville
- YMCA Day Camp Opens
- YMCA launches youth aquatics program
- YMCA expands and provides new facilities in Arlington and St. Johns County
- Jacksonville Mayor Haydon Burns received an honorary membership to the YMCA
- YMCA Camp receives $10,000 from Jacksonville Rotary Club to build Camp Immokalee Infirmary
- YMCA, with the Red Cross, begin teaching lifesaving classes
- YMCA is 100 years old in America
- Delta Hi-Y Founds Library as a service project
- Drown-proofing program begins at the YMCA
- YMCA begins new membership campaign that strengthens physical, moral and spiritual values
- YMCA offers first physical fitness tests to assess members exercise needs
- YMCA desegregates facilities (Franklin D. Wilson initiated the movement)
- Opening of new “Executive Health Club” with sauna and steam room at YMCA Riverside YMCA
- YMCA permits women to join as members (Mrs. Sutton, secretary to the President, was the first female member)
- YMCA in Riverside opens a new running track
- First presence in Nassau County with after-school, day camp and youth soccer; operations were run out of City Recreation Department building
- The Clay County YMCA (Dye Clay Family YMCA) opens on Moody Road in Orange Park; later renamed with YMCA President Bob Dye retired after 26 years of service to our association
- YMCA of Florida’s First Coast merged with the existing St. Augustine YMCA making it a part of the Association.
- Williams Family YMCA opens in Mandarin
- Broke ground on the Dye Clay Family YMCA Daystar building
- Barco-Newton Family YMCA opens in Fleming Island
- Brooks Family YMCA opens after 60,000 square foot building donated by Brooks Rehabilitation
- YMCA’s Tiger Academy charter school opens
- Winston Family YMCA opens in Riverside replacing the Yates Family YMCA
WATCH: Building a Better Us
- YMCA at Baptist North opens in partnership with Baptist Health at I-295 & Dunn Avenue
- Teen Center and new swimming pool opens at Johnson Family YMCA
- YMCA at Flagler Health+ Village opens in partnership with Flagler Health+
- YMCA at Wildlight opens in partnership with UF Health
- YMCA at Nocatee opens in partnership with Baptist Health
Read more about Our Impact in Northeast Florida.