ywca columbus


a small start

In 1886, something extraordinary began when five women set out to find a home for Columbus’ first YWCA.

They found a 12-room house, and offered shelter to 25 young women who had recently moved to Columbus and were looking for a safe place to stay.

World War I brought more women to the YWCA’s door—more than we had room for. But thanks to the generous donation of community member Mary Sessions, we soon had a facility with enough space for hundreds to gather.

And in 1929, the YWCA got what it had never had before: a permanent home in downtown Columbus, funded by Mary Griswold. Since then, the Griswold Building has become a meeting place for thousands who have found opportunities to grow and make an impact here.


a big commitment

Over the last 130 years, we’ve made incredible strides in eliminating racism and empowering women in our community.

In 1910, we founded the first public childcare program in Franklin County.

During World War I, we created a center for African-American women and girls, providing emergency housing and hostess houses for African-American troops.

In the 1940s and 1950s, we pushed to integrate racially segregated housing at YWCAs across the U.S.—modeling interracial partnerships and encouraging civil rights work.

Today, we touch the lives of more than 12,000 women and families through thoughtfully planned and critically needed programs that support and empower women of all kinds.


the mission continues

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

To learn more about the history of the national YWCA, click here.

began with a society of 5 women leasing a 12 room home for homeless girls

opened first public childcare program for working mothers in Franklin County

organized the Girl Reserves to develop “productive and dependable young women”

added curriculum to our childcare and became the first kindergarden in Franklin County

organized the Blue Triangle Branch, a center for African American women

opened and dedicated the Griswold Memorial Building

congratulated by the Columbus Urban League President for serving African Americans in our cafeteria

housed relocated Japanese American women in the Griswold Building

adopted the Interracial Charter, a landmark policy for racial justice

fully integrated our staff, board, swimming pool, and residency

adopted “The One Imperative, to thrust our collective power towards eliminating racism”

Mary Miller, YWCA staff member, led the way to Ohio’s ratification of the ERA from the third floor of the Griswold Building

celebrated first 100 years with the first Women of Achievement Event

first School Age Childcare program begins in Westerville
started serving homeless families with the Interfaith Hospitality Network
awarded first ever HUD grant for our Women’s Residency program

first class of Bright Futures Leadership Program

created Racial Justice Dialogues for legal professionals

began $15 million Griswold Building renovation campaign

first annual Woman to Woman Luncheon

Family Center opens

started Leadership Luncheon Series, networking for professional women

Family Center awarded the Audrey Nelson Award, designating it a national model

Racial Justice Program designated by the National YWCA as a Hallmark Program
Chase Gen Y Leadership Project inaugural class

School Age Childcare program wins Educational Council Award

125th anniversary of YWCA Columbus