Building a Brighter Future

The Florida Times-Union Guest Column published February 7, 2021

Eric K. Mann, President & CEO, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast
Doug Baer, Chair of the Board of Directors, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast

A New Year is always filled with the promise of positive change, and following the sudden disruption of 2020, there is even more anticipation and hope for what 2021 will bring. Like many of our neighbors, other businesses and organizations, the First Coast YMCA continues to face financial hardships in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. We remain steadfast in our work to build a brighter future for all, and are so grateful for the support of those who recognize our deep commitment to strengthening this community.

At the end of 2020, in the midst of immense challenges, billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott surprised the First Coast YMCA with an unrestricted $10 million gift. This substantial contribution is a testament to the trust we have earned through our unwavering service to generations of families on the First Coast. We are humbled and thankful for her generosity. To uphold both Ms. Scott’s confidence, and that of all of our donors, our leadership team and Metropolitan Board of Directors diligently deliberated over the allocation of this gift.

Like many nonprofits, the Y found itself with limited cash reserves in the wake of the pandemic after temporarily closing our doors to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. To ensure operational continuity, our stewardship of this gift will focus on bolstering our financial foundation to sustain and amplify our impact now and in the future.

Support from our community enabled us to do so much for our neighbors in 2020. We provided emergency child care, kept the community connected through free virtual workouts and events, helped combat senior isolation, fed those who were hungry and increased educational equity through local partnerships. We are tremendously grateful for those who supported this work and we’re committed to doing even more by assigning a portion of Ms. Scott’s gift to the Y’s newly-created Endowment Fund. This fund will primarily be used to support critical programs that require yearly contributions to survive.

The Y is not a building, our facilities are the conduit that helps us deliver on our promises to empower young people, improve health and well-being and inspire action. Ms. Scott’s gift will enable the Y to make improvements to maintain, preserve and extend the life of our existing locations as we explore new opportunities in high-growth areas to reach more people across the communities we serve. These investments will help us provide greater support for branches and programs in our region’s under-resourced neighborhoods.

We know challenges lie ahead, but we remain vigilant in providing services and programs that transform lives. Sustaining the Y’s mission long-term is not possible without continued support from our community members and generous donors. As we move into this new season, we invite you to join in making a difference with us at