• 1844 – George Williams, age 22, joined 11 friends to organize the first YMCA in London, England

  • 1851 – First YMCA in the United States was founded in Boston, Massachusetts on December 29

  • 1867 – YMCA of San Jose was founded on March 5 with an initial membership of 12 men

  • 1867 – By June 15, the Y had founded the San Jose Library

  • 1885 – The YMCA started Camp Dudley in Vermont, America’s first known summer camp program

  • 1891 – Luther H. Gulick, M.D. proposed a red triangle as the YMCA symbol, representing spirit, mind and body as man’s essential unity

  • 1891 – Basketball invented by James Naismith at the International YMCA Training School in Massachusetts

  • 1893 – A YMCA was established in Palo Alto on October 8


  • 1907 – YMCA of San Jose hosts the first local camp program

  • 1908 – Thanksgiving Day 50-mile relay race between San Jose YMCA and San Francisco YMCA – the first relay race of its kind in the United States with 61 runners on each side

  • 1909 – First group swim lessons began at a YMCA in Michigan

  • 1910 – The first Father’s Day celebration in the US was held by a YMCA in Spokane, Washington

  • 1912 – San Jose YMCA building opened, including an indoor natatorium, which offered the finest facilities in the valley

  • 1924 – First YMCA co-educational resident camp in the country was held at the San Jose “Y” Camp

  • 1924 – Toastmasters International started at a YMCA in Bloomington, Illinois

  • 1925Sequoia YMCA established in Redwood City

  • 1926 – Y-Indian Guides, a parent-child program begins in St. Louis, Missouri


  • 1936 – YMCA Youth and Government program launched in New York to help high schoolers understand the process of government and participate in it
  • 1936 – 12-acres of land was purchased at Boulder Creek which would ultimately become YMCA Camp Campbell
  • 1941 – San Jose YMCA housed up to 500 service personnel a night during World War II
  • 1944Palo Alto Family YMCA started its first female YMCA club
  • 1946 – The Boulder Creek YMCA Camp was renamed YMCA Camp Campbell
  • 1954Sequoia YMCA in Redwood City opened at current building location
  • 1957Palo Alto Family YMCA added a women’s gym class, an early version of today’s aerobic classes
  • 1957Palo Alto Family YMCA added a square dance class, a club for young singles and a married couples’ group, foreshadowing today’s family programs


  • 1960Central YMCA in San Jose opened on The Alameda after 46 years on Third and Santa Clara Street

  • 1960 – As more women joined the work force, the Y pioneered high-quality child care

  • 1961Southwest YMCA opened in Saratoga

  • 1967East Valley Family YMCA was chartered, after originally being organized as an extension of the Central YMCA

  • 1967 – YMCA created and trademarked logo with red triangle

  • 1970East Valley Family YMCA in San Jose opened a new building, thanks to a 1968 capital campaign

  • 1971Palo Alto Family YMCA established the Y Cardiac Therapy program for people with heart disease – the prototype for the Y’s national YMCArdiac Therapy program

  • 1972 – South Valley Provisional Branch was chartered in 1973

  • 1976South Valley Family YMCA moved to Santa Teresa Blvd in San Jose


  • 1981South Valley Family YMCA welcomed members to new and expanded facilities
  • 1982YMCA Licensed After School founded in Santa Clara Valley
  • 1982 – First YMCA child care manual was published, titled: “It’s the Character Element that Counts”
  • 1985 – Campo Alegre was established, a 4-day resident camp during spring break for underserved children
  • 1986Mt. Madonna YMCA started by offering programs such as day camp and Y-Indian Guides in Morgan Hill
  • 1986 – YMCA of the USA introduced the “YMCA Fitness Leaders” course, a standard program for training and certifying leaders of fitness classes
  • 1987 – First annual camp offered for active older adults ages 50 and over
  • 1989El Camino YMCA opened in Mountain View


  • 1992 – YMCAs conducted the first annual national Healthy Kids Day to encourage healthy development of youth

  • 1992 – National Safety Around Water program was introduced by Sequoia YMCA for children at risk of drowning

  • 1993 – YMCA the Mid-Peninsula celebrated 100 years of serving Palo Alto and surrounding communities

  • 1994 – The YMCA movement formally defined character development as four core values: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility

  • 1995 – YMCA of Santa Clara Valley leaders participated to help create the national YMCA Diversity and Inclusion Initiative

  • 1997 – YMCAs formally adopted one logo and the theme, “We build strong kids, strong families, strong communities.”

  • 1999Project Cornerstone was founded by Youth Alliance, a group of youth-focused nonprofits including the YMCA


  • 2000 – YMCA of Santa Clara Valley added Asset 41 “Positive Cultural Identity” to our youth development framework
  • 2003 – Out of respect for the Native American culture, Y-Indian Guides was officially renamed YMCA Adventure Guides – our local YMCA leadership worked nationally to affect this change
  • 2006 – City of Morgan Hill and YMCA partnered to open the Centennial Recreation Center in Morgan Hill
  • 2007Lewis and Joan Platt East Palo Alto Family YMCA (LEED Gold certified) opened to serve a community of high need
  • 2007 – YMCA of Santa Clara Valley assumed leadership for Project Cornerstone
  • 2009 – YMCA of Santa Clara Valley and YMCA of the Mid-Peninsula officially merged on January 1 to become YMCA of Silicon Valley


  • 2010 – United States YMCAs revitalized the brand and began officially calling themselves “the Y”
  • 2010South Valley Family YMCA started the Summer Achievement Program to help children prevent summer learning loss
  • 2011Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) offered first in San Jose and Gilroy became a national program in 2015
  • 2012 – Began offering Parkinson’s Support Program in Palo Alto to help with functionality and disease management
  • 2013 – Nana y Yo launched to provide a stimulating environment where children and their caretakers learn together
  • 2013 – EnhanceFitness® introduced to help seniors increase cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and balance
  • 2016 – $20 million capital campaign for YMCA Camp Campbell was completed resulting in renovations and gorgeous additions such as new tree-top cabins, dining lodge and adventure pool