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Published: Tuesday, 7/13/2010

YMCA trims name in move to spell out diverse presence

BY DENNIS HOWE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The national YMCA announced Monday that it was shaving the last three letters from its name, and would henceforth be known as simply, "the Y."

The move comes as part of a larger rebranding in which the Y - formerly known as the Young Men's Christian Association - hopes to emphasize its presence in diverse communities throughout the country.

It also comes after two years of research suggesting that people don't actually know what the YMCA does.

"When people refer to us in the community, rather than saying, 'I'm going to the YMCA,' they would say, 'I'm going to the Y,'•" said Rob Thomas, a spokesman for the Y of Greater Toledo. "So this change engages more people."

Mr. Thomas said that administrators of the local Y would soon be meeting with staff, volunteers, and the marketing department to discuss how best to implement the name change.

He said that the Y will need to undergo some changes in how it presents itself to the community, but he didn't know what those changes would be or how much they would cost.

Many of them will simply be dictated by the national organization.

"There are national guidelines we'll have to adhere to," he said. "That's part of the whole effort, to position the Y as a more consolidated entity."

Mr. Thomas emphasized that the shift represents a change in branding, not a change in the services the Y provides.

"The programs and offerings that we have are currently still the same; we haven't changed our mission," he said. "It's just the way it's presented to the community. Each community has different needs. What the Y brand does is it establishes the Y as the organization that has the programs to reach out to kids and help them achieve success."

The U.S. nonprofit, based in Chicago, has given the more than 10,000 YMCAs around the country a five-year window to implement the change.

Contact Dennis Howe at:

dhowe@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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