YMCA makes changes to youth membership program

Published 10:19 am Friday, August 7, 2015

After decades of offering youth memberships for $1 per year, the YMCA of Austin is changing its pricing structure for youth membership starting Oct. 1.

Some children will still be able to get membership to the Y for $1, but a new pricing structure will help balance a child’s family’s income with how much they pay per year. YMCA Director Tedd Maxfield hoped the change would encourage more family memberships and said the YMCA board of directors chose a sliding fee scale ranging from $1 to $60 a year to help balance costs but not create barriers for children in need.

The $1 memberships date to when the Shaw Gym closed in the early 1980s. At the time, Hormel Foods Corp. CEO Dick Knowlton worked with the Austin Y to ensure area youth had year-round access to recreational facilities. Knowlton helped the Y find funding for the program from the United Way, the Hormel Foundation and Hormel Foods, who are still donors to this day. These donors finance a majority of the program, with the YMCA subsidizing the balance of the cost of the memberships.

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“It’s overwhelmingly been a positive program,” Maxfield said. “Being able to have any youth in the community be able to join if they want to has opened our doors to a tremendous number of kids in Austin.”

Maxfield said the program wouldn’t be possible without the funding partners.

“We’re very grateful to our funding partners for helping us make sure that the Y is accessible to everybody regardless of their income,” Maxfield said.

For some time, the funders have encouraged the YMCA to consider changing the manner in which the Y’s youth memberships are offered, according to Maxfield.

The memberships will be based on four income levels to determine the cost of a youth membership. For families in need, youth memberships will still cost just $1. Families at the top end of the income range will pay just $60 per year for youth memberships. The youth membership program will continue to serve kids in grades 2 through 12.

“We wanted to be sure that every child has access to our Y, regardless of their family’s income,” Brian Lillis, who chairs the Y’s Board of Directors, said in a press release. “This sliding scale keeps the barrier of participation low for families in need. We hope it also encourages some to pursue family memberships and participate together.”

For information about financial assistance or any Y program, people can stop by the Y or visit them online at www.ymca-austin.org.  Or you may contact Sandy Halbach at the Y, 433-1804.

Household income membership per child

Less than $24,000 – $1/year

$24,001 – $32,500 – $5/year

$32,501 – $47,100 – $25/year

More than $47,100 – $60/year