YMCA France

France – National Council of YMCAs

Date of foundation of the YMCA: 1851
Membership Status: Full Member
Full member of the World Alliance of YMCAs since: 1855

Brief YMCA History

1850s : the first YMCAs are created across France under the name of UCJG (Unions Chrétiennes de Jeunes Gens) by young protestants : in Paris, the regions of Dauphiné, Alsace, Cévennes, Normandie, Pays de Montbéliard.

1855 : the YMCA France are co-founders of the World Alliance, with the signature of the Paris Basis.

1867 : the french associations come together under a national federation.
They develop libraries, evening classes, cultural activities : acting, music, etc…

They also give access to sports activities and open gymnasiums : volley-ball, indoor swimming pools.

Basketball is introduced in 1893 and becomes rapidly popular in the country. Today, the oldest basketball court in the world – a classified monument – is situated in the YMCA Union de Paris, the exact replica of the original one built in Springfield, USA.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the YMCAs get involved in outdoors activities, contributing largely to the development in France of camping, trekking, scoutism (Eclaireurs Unionists in 1911).

During WW1, along with american and british YMCAs, they provide lodging, entertaining and sports activities to allied soldiers in France. The UCJG in Paris is used as a military hospital.

In 1909, they start providing programs for refugees and founds the Cimade (migrants) in 1939 with other protestant youth movements.

They are also founding members of several non-profit organizations : France Volontaires (volunteering), CNAJEP (non-formal education), UNAT (Tourism), UCPA (sports), Coordination pour l’éducation à la non-violence et à la paix (education for non-violence).

They extend progressively their programs to meet the needs of people facing special difficulties (access to employment, disabilities, poverty, family break-up, etc.).

The UCJG – YMCA French Alliance is a state approved association since 1947.
It represents the YMCA movement at the UNESCO in Paris.

Mission Statement

With the aim of building a human community of justice and solidarity, the movement strives to foster dialogue and partnership between people of different origins, cultures, faiths and opinions, physical and mental capacities.

In the vacation centers as well as in youth residences, our programs and activities aim at empowering young people : to develop their autonomy and to allow them to take increased responsibilities at all levels.
All are encouraged to reach their full potential and lead their lives to the fullest while contributing to a better world. It applies a holistic approach : helping youth to develop in mind, spirit and body.

Main Programmes

The YMCA French Alliance represents 23 associations.

Focused on young people, the YMCA have progressively extended their programs to adults, in particular vulnerable people facing difficulties in housing, employability, health or linked to their recent arrival in the country.
80 000 people are welcomed each year, among which 48 000 youth (60 %).

The YMCAs are involved in two mains areas :

–    Tourism & non-formal education : hostels & accommodations, youth camps and exchanges, volunteering (missions in France and abroad). A special emphasis is put on international exchange programs, bringing together youth from three or more different countries.

–    Social integration : housing (students, young workers, homeless people, employment & career counselling, vocational training, permanent jobs for people with disabilities, health.


Alliance nationale des UCJG YMCA France
UCJG – YMCA Groupe Alsace
UCJG – YMCA Avignon
UCJG – YMCA Anduze
UCJG – YMCA de Paris
UCJG – YMCA Strasbourg
UCJG – YMCA de Schiltigheim
UCJG – YMCA Coutainville
UCJG – YMCA Sanary sur Mer
UCJG – YMCA Toulouse (CFP)
UCJG – YMCA Toulouse (Robert Monnier)
UCJG –YMCA Chambon sur Lignon
UCJG –YMCA Colomiers