State of the NEW WAY

Date: 18 January 2012

Dear friends,

Ken Colloton and I would like to wish all of you a very happy New Year! Through the NEW WAY 2011 was a marvellous year and we both thank you sincerely for all  support and energy you have invested in serving the YMCA worldwide!

Last year I shared with you my first day message from Geneva – hopes, dreams, visions on the first day on the job. I introduced to you the vision of a NEW WAY.

Today I want to send you a message again. This is a message about progress that we have jointly made in 2011 as a world movement, a kind of “State of the YMCA” update. It is also a message about future visions and priorities, a new change model for youth empowerment.


YMCA Empowers Young People! This is the exciting focus in our NEW WAY Strategy. We want to take the position as the leading youth movement in the world. Romulo’s speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations, speaking on behalf of the youth organisations of the world, underlined this ambition with a great success in New York in July. Later on we have been invited two times to participate in high level evaluations of the UN Youth Programmes. The task force for Youth Empowerment is working, extensive research into youth issues  is being undertaken, the World Challenge October 13, 2012 is being developed. We will mobilize big numbers of young people.

Ken and I, the Officers and the rest of the staff have travelled the world to introduce NEW WAY. You have embraced it and supported it – thank you!


The NEW WAY fundraising campaign to raise money for capacity building in the Areas and National Movements for better income generation on all levels of the YMCA is already a resounding success! Through 2011 NEW WAY raised US $ 1’002’200. We invested US $ 188’200 in Area projects and they raised US 1’027’604. This gives us a Return on Investment (ROI) of 5,46!


We have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the World Urban Network and with Y’sMen International and the same is being created with the North America YMCA Development Organization, (NAYDO). They are all helping us to set up a scheme for coaching, training and evaluation of the Area projects for fundraising. We are setting up Think Tanks for Youth Empowerment, Resource Mobilization, Social Enterprise Projects, Global Citizenship, Environment and for the YMCA Student programme. This is just the beginning of the HUB-model, of having experienced resource people from around the global YMCA movement coming to assist NEW WAY for shorter and longer periods of times. “Professionals in Residence” is another programme we are initiating. The Global Staff Team is our closest partner and we thank all of you warmly for your partnership!


We conducted high quality research to further our efforts to define the YMCA youth empowerment change model, understand the impact of the work on the local, regional, national, and global level, and identify the challenges facing young people today.  The research has gathered specific information on the critical areas of jobs/employment, health, and civic engagement and includes survey data from National Movements and targeted interviews with leaders in each of these fields of our work.  The research also includes issue papers focused on the contemporary challenges facing young people today written by leaders from each region. We are expanding the scope of research in the months to come and a comprehensive report will be presented to the Executive Committee in Kenya in April.


A “Road Map” for the task force on Image and Impact is developed, a report on the Partners in Progress research, called “Our WAY Forward”, is produced, two issues of the “YMCA World” delivered, Annual Report, Peace day poster and Weak of Prayer leaflet developed, the website totally modernized and updated, use of Social Media increased both on Face Book, Twitter and Blog. Together with APAY we published a resource book on Global Citizenship. Papers have been issued on GOP III for Movement Strengthening, on Movement Dialogue on Global Citizenship as well as a WAY Capability Statement.


Under the leadership of our President, Ken Colloton, we see a continued renewal of our governance models and practices, very much building upon the good results reached by our previous volunteer leadership. Our Christian mission and Youth issues are both integrated in all that we are doing as an Executive Committee and leading to increased mission awareness and real youth influence. We have a new policy on Conduct and Ethics, and we have clear procedures for evaluation of both the Executive Committee and the Secretary General. We are in full process of preparing for the next World Council.


These are just the highlights of what we have achieved together under the umbrella of NEW WAY in 2011. It was a good year for NEW WAY, because so many of you embraced the new strategic directions.

For the world it was of course a difficult year, and many of you and your YMCA constituents faced struggles. For young people it was especially challenging, young people are on top of all the bad statistics, everything from health and violence to unemployment and poverty. NEW WAY wants to position YMCA as the main youth movement in the world – that means the main servant to young people in the world. We want to empower young people! We interviewed 70 key YMCA leaders from around the world and asked them for a definition of Youth Empowerment. Almost all of them gave us clear, good directions for Youth Empowerment. When we asked them for a definition of the YMCA change model, the answers became very unclear and divided. Do we have a change model in the YMCA, many asked. This is the crucial need for the world movement of YMCA – to develop a clear, easy to understand, change model for us to change and modernize our YMCA to become a better servant for young people in this difficult world.

This is what we want to focus on in the months and years to come, a change model for youth empowerment, a way to mobilize millions of young people through the YMCA, mobilize them for change and a better life, mobilize them for hope and a new future. Here it comes:


The YMCA is an empowering, creative and self determined space for young people to experience life, discover their potential and develop their talents.


The YMCA empowers young people by offering tools for self-development, training for life skills, education for increased knowledge and self-esteem, which leads to:


Young people have impact on their own life situation, their local society as well as the global world, individually as well as collectively.


The Stakeholders’ Meeting in Kenya in March this year will be the most important meeting for a very long time in the worldwide YMCA. It will bring movement leaders from all Areas and Regions together with our Executive Committee. We want to introduce the YMCA Change Model for Youth Empowerment in the Stakeholders’ Meeting. We want to suggest that the increased visibility and positioning of the YMCA worldwide will be fuelled by this change model.

We hope that you will recognise this simple model in most of what you do in the YMCA. We see it in programmes like Subjects2Citizen in Africa, Global Citizenship Education in Asia and Pacific, Ten Sing in Europe, Lideres in LACA, Peace Network in Canada, Youth in Government in the USA and vocational training programmes in the Middle East.

Through the NEW WAY we seek to offer facilitation and coordination so that this change model becomes a turning point for our movement. We see the YMCA becoming  better positioned to not only serve young people inside the movement, but to mobilize big numbers of young people outside the YMCA.

In this way the YMCA will lead, coordinate and inspire change for the better around the world, through the voices and examples of empowered young leaders.

The YMCA is a Christian Youth Movement and this change model is built on our Christian values and principles. The change model and the youth empowerment is open for young people of all backgrounds, faith and cultures. The YMCA wants to serve all young people.

You will hear a lot about this in the coming months. We shall develop training material and concept papers and you will see examples of this Change Model for Youth Empowerment in Action.

At the Stakeholders’ Meeting we will continue to develop this vision and we invite all of you to come on board with all your programmes and experience to enrich this process towards a coordinated space for youth empowerment for change in this world, a place called YMCA.

Warm regards and God bless you all,

Rev. Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, Secretary General, World Alliance of YMCAs