History & mission

Collaborating with a broad east metro network, YWCA St. Paul anchors the Summit-University community and reaches out to neighbors in greater St. Paul and Ramsey County.

Every year, we help individuals and families in our community reach their goals and improve their quality of life by addressing community needs in four core areas: Housing & Supportive Services, Youth Development, Health & Wellness, and Employment & Economic Development.


YWCA St. Paul is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

History of YWCA St. Paul

YWCA St. Paul was started by a group of forward-thinking St. Paul women 13 years before women had the right to vote! Founded to provide refuge and support for the young women who moved to St. Paul pursuing work in the factories and mills, our programs have continued to evolve to meet changing community needs. Today we change minds, bodies and lives by providing programs and services for women, men, children and families.


YWCA St. Paul’s first building, constructed in 1911 on Fifth Street in downtown St. Paul, included a gym, club and classrooms, an auditorium and a 100-bed residence. YWCA St. Paul went on to foster the growth of agencies such as the Hallie Q. Brown Neighborhood Center, Travelers Aid, International Institute and Capitol Community Services.


YWCA St. Paul programs for women included education in business skills, home arts, physical fitness and arts and crafts. Office and meeting space was provided for other women’s organizations such as the Campfire Girls and the League of Women Voters.


In the 1930s, YWCA St. Paul focused its programs on job assistance and counseling as well as programs for women in business and industry. The agency also hosted the first Festival of Nations in 1932.


YWCA St. Paul was active on the home front during World War II, providing support for women entering the labor force as well as support for servicemen and women through the USO and relief efforts.


The 1950s brought a focus on educational and recreational programs, including programming in public housing projects. Other programs included co-ed clubs, Homemaker’s Holidays, child care, dance and young adult programs.


In 1961, YWCA St. Paul opened its new facility on Kellogg Boulevard in St. Paul, providing space for rooms to rent to women in transition, programming, a full gym and swimming pool, gallery, gift shop, cafe and rental space for organizations such as the Jewish Community Center and Wilder Foundation.


With a focus on helping women move into the job market, the 1970s also saw an increase in YWCA St. Paul physical education, as well as recreation and children’s programs.


YWCA St. Paul served women and children experiencing homelessness with the first emergency shelter in the state and the first site-based transitional housing program in the Twin Cities.


YWCA St. Paul moved to its present location in St. Paul’s Summit-University neighborhood and expanded facilities and services for the Transitional Housing Program.


In 2007, YWCA St. Paul celebrated its centennial and raised more than $2.5 million to enhance and endow its programs and services to meet evolving community needs.


Today, YWCA St. Paul serves the community in four core areas: Housing & Supportive Services, Youth Development, Health & Wellness, and Employment & Economic Development. The agency is also a voice in advancing racial justice and gender equity through advocacy and community conversations.

Be part of YWCA St. Paul's powerful legacy.

YWCA St. Paul will be closed on Monday, Jan. 20 in observation of MLK day.
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