The new University Park YMCA in Akron has exceeded membership expectations by 46 percent.
By the end of February 2012, the $11 million University Park facility, funded in part with a $3 million grant from Knight Foundation, had sold 3,510 memberships, which represents more than 7,000 adults and children.
The YMCA had anticipated to sell approximately 2,400 by the end of 2011. Douglas Kohl, the Akron Area YMCA president and CEO calls the facility "a giant, diverse melting pot," engaging residents of all ages in activities.
The Akron Beacon Journal noted the recent boom in membership in a recent article, highlighting several new programming opportunities including a teen night, swimming instructions for kids and silver sneakers, an exercise and social activities program for seniors.
The new branch of the YMCA, which opened in 2011, is a partnership with Summa Heath System, which paid half of the costs of the building.
Knight's support for the YMCA speaks to its efforts to increase support for the neighborhood’s economic development and help create a new place for residents to come together. The YMCA branch is also helping to make the University Park neighborhood more attractive for businesses.
By Jennifer Thomas, program director/Akron at Knight Foundation