Launched May 2024: Learning, Innovation and Impact function

Date: 17 May 2024

On 30 April, 2024, 16 leaders from across the global YMCA movement came together in Geneva, Switzerland, to launch a new Learning, Innovation and Impact Movement Support Function. The meeting brought together Area Alliances and National Movements from across the globe as part of the collective implementation of YMCA Vision 2030.

The Learning, Innovation, and Impact function will support the Movement in evaluating, sharing, and communicating the impact of its work, aligning efforts under the four Pillars of Impact of YMCA Vision 2030, and connecting YMCAs to learn and improve together.

The workshop in Geneva had three goals:

  1. Draft the Vision 2030 Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Framework;
  2. Begin the development of global indicators and metrics to underpin the implementation of Vision 2030; and;
  3. Frame a new global learning and innovation hub to support capability building, knowledge sharing and lesson-learning within and among YMCA countries.

“Together, each YMCA embodies impactful change, yet out challenge lies in uniting our diverse efforts in demonstrating our collective impact”, said World YMCA Secretary General Carlos Sanvee. “To fulfil our Vision 2030, we must deliberately shape our collective impact. It is the only way to show the world how we are striving for a just, sustainable, inclusive and equitable world for all”.

The opportunity for this new Movement Support Function in Learning, Innovation and Impact is significant. YMCA Vision 2030 creates a powerful case for change within the Movement, underpinned by sharing and learning together, mobilising our knowledge and data, and measuring and reporting on our impact.

“We have a rare chance to pause and reflect”, said Bethia McNeil, who is leading the Learning, Innovation and Impact activity at World YMCA, “and to consider what it means to be an ‘impactful and impact-led global Movement’”.

Across the three days of the workshop, participants collaborated and co-created a vision for the future, where the Learning, Innovation, and Impact function drives positive change for young people and communities worldwide. They explored the principles that will guide our shared work and refined the theory of change for the Movement’s journey towards being both impactful and impact-led.

The group also began the vital task of developing the indicators that will populate the Vision 2030 monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) framework. This global set of indicators will highlight the data and insight that signals the Movement’s progress towards the Vision 2030 goals under each of the four Pillars of Impact – Community Wellbeing, Meaningful Work, Sustainable Planet, Just World – and will focus at three levels:

  1. Change for the young people and communities with whom we work;
  2. Advocating for improved life chances for all; and
  3. Transforming the way we work as YMCA.

Participants also created time and space during the workshop to learn from one another – recognising the wealth of expertise that was already in the room – and from lessons outside the Movement. This helped to bring inspiration and focus to the group and turned our minds to what we could only achieve through working together. Our shared learning journey will be powered by a new online ‘knowledge
hub’, which will enable and inspire global ‘conversations’ and connections about
impact, building a common language through which we can share our work.

Denise Hatton, National General Secretary of YMCA England & Wales and Global Impact Champion said, “It was a privilege to join colleagues to consider how we develop this critical support function for YMCA work across the globe. Most importantly, it excites me how we can show – together – the impact we have for young people and our communities”.

Following the workshop, participants will reconvene in smaller groups to progress critical strands of activity prior to the Vision 2030 Accelerator Summit in Mombasa in October. This will include mapping our key audiences within and beyond the Movement, and connecting with them to share and listen, with a particular focus on the voices of young people.

Though we are in the early stages of our collective Learning, Innovation and Impact journey, participants were optimistic and excited about next steps.

Workshop attendees:

  • Tony El Mir, YMCA Lebanon
  • Olga Lukina, YMCA Europe
  • Grant Yonge, YMCA Western Australia
  • Caroline Chernov, World YMCA
  • Ian McKenzie, YMCA Ireland
  • Colin McFarlane, YMCA Scotland
  • Antonio Merino, YMCA Latin America and Caribbean
  • Gerhard Wiebe, YMCA Germany
  • Pedro Fueyo Diaz, YMCA Spain
  • Joost Vlasblom, YMCA Netherlands
  • Wahbeh Asfour, YMCA East Jerusalem
  • Angela Zamaere-Smith, Y Care International
  • Kathleen Elsig, World YMCA
  • Rehana Merali Merchant, World YMCA
  • Shakil Karim, World YMCA
  • Denise Hatton, YMCA England & Wales

With facilitators:

  • Jan Owen, World YMCA
  • Bethia McNeil, World YMCA and YMCA George Williams College


Photos courtesy of Ian McKenzie, YMCA Ireland