Still vibrant as it goes into its 100th year in 2017, the YWCA of Southern Arizona is as entrepreneurial today as it was nearly a century ago when it was the first organization to provide full-day daycare and housing for women going to work and school.
Today, with supportive financing from the Nonprofit Loan Fund of Tucson and Southern Arizona (NPLF), the YWCA is flexing its entrepreneurial muscles with strategic acquisitions and by creating social enterprises that build community, drive economic development and advocate for change. “The YWCA board has been willing to take strategic risks in order to grow and impact the community in bigger ways,” said YWCA CEO Kelly Fryer. “I am also thankful for the many other community leaders who lent me their credibility and support for the last three years.”
The Women’s Business Center – funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Association – provides the YWCA with access to federal funding opportunities and the opportunity to expand its services to women. The WBC provides comprehensive business and management training to mostly low and middle income individuals wanting to start or expand businesses in the region.
Another YWCA acquisition is the House of Neighborly Service (HNS), a community center in South Tucson. One new revenue-generating enterprise in the works at HNS is a commercially licensed kitchen that will be available to food entrepreneurs. YWCA staff are integrating other programming across sites.
Headquartered west of downtown in a building offering attractive indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, combined with a catering service that doubles as a workforce training program, the YWCA is becoming an increasingly popular venue for business and nonprofit meetings and events. Rent is generated too, from office and performance space. A café in the lobby and another nearby at El Rio Health Center round out recent training programs and revenue generators
Other successful initiatives continue, including Women Out of Poverty and Latina Leadership, directed by new staff member Alba Jaramillo. At the recent 99th Anniversary Breakfast, Alba said “One of the core values of our programming here at the YWCA is that regardless of a person’s language abilities, immigration status, financial or educational status, we believe everyone who walks through our doors is already equipped with the tools they need to succeed. They simply need to be connected with resources and provide with space where they can discover their own capabilities, talents, and power.”
“We are leveling the playing field for women in business and the workplace,” says Kelly. Issues that matter to women and people of color are front and center, and we’re building healthier and more resilient community for all of us. I know our best days are ahead of us!”