YMCA Buffalo Niagara FAQ

What is the YMCA?

The YMCA is an international organization that was founded in London, England in 1844 to provide recreational and social opportunities for young men who, as a result of the industrial revolution, had moved into the city from rural areas to work. Based on that need, the YMCA began its work in Buffalo in 1852.

As the second-oldest YMCA in the United States, YMCA Buffalo Niagara has continued to grow and change over the years to meet community needs as they arise. More than 150 years after its founding YMCA Buffalo Niagara is an organization open to all – as members, community participants, volunteers, or staff.

Who belongs to the Y?

YMCA membership and participation is open to everyone – men, women, boys and girls of all ages and abilities – regardless of race or ethnic background, religious preference or ability to pay.

Where are its facilities?

YMCA Buffalo Niagara has six full facility branches, two overnight camps, and over 50 child care locations throughout Western New York.

What are its programs and services?

YMCA Buffalo Niagara offers a wide array of programs including preschool, child care, camping, youth sports, swimming lessons, teen leadership development, and fitness/recreation programs.

Who runs the Y and how is it supported?

YMCA Buffalo Niagara is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and Board of Trustees. The Boards work together to hire the YMCA’s chief executive and the staff who, with guidance from the Boards, are responsible for delivering YMCA programs and services. They have the responsibility for annual funding and determining the long-range goals and policies for the YMCA. Each YMCA branch has a board of management made up of volunteer advocates who live or work in their local communities. YMCA Buffalo Niagara employs over 1,000 Western New Yorkers annually and receives assistance from more than 600 volunteers.

The YMCA is supported by membership dues and program fees, an annual campaign, United Way support, special fund raising events, and annual earnings from its Endowment Fund. A few YMCA programs receive some funding from government grants. Over 2,800 individuals and families benefit from this support, receiving over $1.4 million in financial assistance.

Do I have to be a member to participate at the Y?

YMCA membership is encouraged, but we offer some programs in which you do not have to be a member to participate. While program participants don’t have access to use to entire facility, they can take part in certain programs for a higher fee. As a member you receive free group exercise classes, free child watch, and unlimited use of the Wellness Center, gym, pool.

What is the cost of a YMCA membership?

Those interested in a YMCA membership can view membership pricing by branch here. A variety of memberships are available, including, youth, young adult, adult, senior, married couple, senior couple, family, individual parent family, and Masterkey. Masterkey memberships allow members to use all YMCA Buffalo Niagara branches. Membership prices vary by branch.

Does the Y provide financial assistance?

Yes – YMCA Buffalo Niagara does not turn anyone away due to an inability to pay. Each year, thousands of people in Western New York benefit from financial assistance from the YMCA. Annually, more than 2,800 children and families benefit from the annual campaign, providing financial aid for people who wish to participate in YMCA programs such as Before and After School Programs and summer camp, or to purchase a membership.


Mission Statement

YMCA Buffalo Niagara is a charitable, community based organization committed to providing programs designed to build a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.


For a Better Us

We are making a difference, thanks to the strong support of our community.


Financial Assistance

Within the available resources of the organization, YMCA Buffalo Niagara will provide services to any youth, senior, adult, or family who desires to participate and understands the benefits of the YMCA, regardless of their ability to pay.