Summit Area YMCA Receives 2019 DIG Program Innovation Award in Baltimore

On Friday, October 4, 2019, the Summit Area YMCA proudly received the 2019 Diversity, Inclusion and Global Innovation (DIG) Program Innovation award during the 2019 DIG YMCA Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The conference brought together Y representatives from DIG Innovation Network YMCAs to discuss opportunities for collaboration, discovery and exploration in how YMCAs can help ameliorate systemic issues in order to advance equity for all. From listening to inspirational key note speakers fueling our understanding of the importance in achieving equity, to attending workshops presenting the historical creations of systemic inequities, to receiving important resources for YMCA staff to present business cases to their organizational leaders and board to propel their YMCAs into DIG work, the conference was not only an important meeting for YMCA staff and volunteers to learn from, but an important way to reaffirm the importance of the work they do everyday.

2019 is the first year in which the Y Movement nominated and awarded National DIG Innovation Network YMCAs of the Year Awards, as well as National DIG Champions of the Year Awards for legacy and emerging awards.

The National DIG Innovation Network YMCAs of the Year Awards are presented annually to honor and lift up 6 Associations/local Ys who actively engage, strengthen, and cultivate equity, diversity, inclusion, and global engagement in their communities. Ys can be nominated in one of the six areas of opportunities that exemplify the extraordinary efforts that they lead to ensure the Y is truly an inclusive welcoming space for all as well as a catalyst for inclusion and equity in the broader communities they serve – locally, nationally and globally.

This year, over 30+ YMCA association nominations that were submitted and the awards were presented in front over 500 Y staff and volunteers from over 80+ YMCAs in the USA, as well as 20 international YMCA representatives from around the globe.

We are incredibly proud of the staff at the Summit Area YMCA who live and breathe our DIG values everyday, dedicating countless hours and time to ensuring that all feel welcome, safe and included in and outside of our 4 walls. With intentionally designed programs and a commitment to DIG values, we are continuously striving to identify and provide transformative solutions to meet community needs, and today this was recognized on both a national and international level.

All nominations were reviewed by members of the National DIG Strategy & Steering Committee Conference and were announced at this year's DIG Conference. This year's committee was led by Candace Murray from the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, Tabitha Ervin from the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne, Alison Lum from the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, and Claudia Soo Hoo from the Merrimack Valley YMCA.

“On behalf of all of our staff, volunteers and members of the Summit Area YMCA I am so proud that our Y is recognized with this incredible honor. Special kudos to our DIG team of staff and volunteers led by Jenny Yip who all continue to move the needle for our Y and our community in terms of equity, fairness and global relations. Our strategic focus with DIG continues to be a very simple one: Respect and welcome all and do our best so that all in our community see our Y as a safe place to be their authentic selves. Our events and programs that help put this mission into action are truly having an impact for our Y and the communities we serve. We thank Y-USA for this amazing award and pledge to continue to do highly challenging, but rewarding, work into the future!”

— Paul Kieltyka, President & CEO of the Summit Area YMCA

Award categories and their winners for 2019 included:







The criteria for the Program Innovation award involved the following:

Y has assessed and expanded program participation by investing in new/improved approaches to programming in partnership with community. (E.g.: Program Quality Evaluations, New or More Accessible Programs Offered, Policies implemented to ensure systemic changes with regard to program innovation from a lens of global community, equity and inclusion across multiple dimensions of diversity, Programs influenced by international Y partnership, etc.)

The Summit Area YMCA was the first DIG network YMCA in the state of New Jersey and has a strong commitment to ensuring a welcoming and inclusive culture in all of our programming and services.

Diversity, inclusion and global work has a heavy influence in how we engage with our community. With continuous research, speaking to members of the community, focus groups, surveying members and staff and assessing feedback from the community, the Summit Area YMCA began implementing policies, programs and services that welcomed and provided access for our growing LatinX community, children and families living with diverse abilities and more.

A few highlights of the program innovation achieved include:

Spanish Speaking integration in Childcare programs
Global Arts classes for youth in Youth Enrichment
Annual Pride Picnic event
Special Needs Prom
Adaptive Wellness Programs
Internships and career opportunities for teens with diverse abilities
Introducing Sign Language in Youth Enrichment classes
International YMCA Partnership YMCA of Peru

We are continually listening to our community and filling the gaps of need where possible--we are proud in how far we have come from when we first started as a Y, and proud of the Summit Area YMCA's commitment to DIG work to ensure our communities are welcoming, inclusive and supportive of all individuals, in and outside of our Y's four walls. 

Learn more about our work in Diversity, Inclusion and Global innovation. 

For upcoming events with the Summit Area YMCA, visit the SAY Calendar.


About the Summit Area YMCA
The Summit Area YMCA is one of the area’s leading 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. Founded in 1886, the Summit Area YMCA has a history steeped in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, income and background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Each year, we serve more than 10,000 individuals with our free and fee-based programs and services in an area spanning the communities of Berkeley Heights, Gillette, Millburn, New Providence, Short Hills, Springfield, Stirling and Summit. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those with demonstrated need.