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December 2015 Newsletter
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Public Policy Update
Your Alliance has been working to support, oppose, and watch legislation in October and November. We have some important updates in the public policy realm these past few months. Please see below for updates:

House Bill 2401 "An Act to Improve Quality in Early Education Centers" filed by Representative Sánchez was presented in a hearing on November 10th. The YMCAs remain opposed to this bill and provided written testimony making our case. There was no testimony in favor of this legislation and many pieces of written testimony against it. While the Alliance will continue to monitor this legislation, it appears to have little support and will most likely not be moving forward.

Senate Bill 2047, a redraft of Senate Bill 318 "An Act to Promote Quality Physical Education", a top priority of the Y, will be taken up for a vote by the Senate. The Y is supporting Senator McGee's amendment to this legislation. This amendment requires specific data to be collected by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. This data will influence the best practices for physical education going forward.

Two pieces of legislation, HB1718 and SB1008, "An Act Establishing a Family and Medical Leave and Temporary Disability Leave Insurance Program" have been filed and heard by the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. As it is now written this legislation would expand the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to all employees (current FMLA applies only to employers with 50 or more employees) and create a fund to pay employees for up to 12 weeks when using FMLA. We have spoken to the Sponsors of this bill, will continue to monitor it closely, and will influence it if it moves forward.

Youth At Risk Funding. The State is currently in a small budget deficit. There is some talk of cutting earmarks to close the deficit. We have been meeting with both legislators and the Baker Administration in order to protect the Ys Youth at Risk Amendment. Currently we do not have a contract with the Department of Public Health for these funds. We will continue to diligently monitor the situation and advocate for our contract to be executed and funds distributed.     

Alliance Advocating for You 
Sharing Our Impact
National Advocacy Days
February 22-24
The Y is a powerful ally that can move people and communities forward. We believe real change can come when Y advocates work as one voice. Come to the nation's capital for National Advocacy Days, Feb. 22-24, to tell your Y's story and promote policies to advance youth development, healthy living and social responsibility in your communities.
At National Advocacy Days you will:
  • Visit with your members of Congress and/or their staff and tell your Y story
  • Hear about the current environment on Capitol Hill
  • Learn about the Y's national legislative agenda
  • Connect with colleagues in the Y movement
The conference will begin on Monday, Feb. 22, at 3:15 p.m. ET.
Voice Opposition to Gift
Substantiation Proposal   

Join the national nonprofit community in a call to action to submit comments in opposition to a proposed rule from the IRS that asks nonprofits to collect Social Security numbers from donors and file a form with the IRS for donations of $250 or more. The form would be optional, but there is concern it could eventually become a requirement if the rule is enacted. Y-USA will submit comments on behalf of the Movement, but we encourage Ys to send comments, too. Click Here to learn more about the proposal and how your Y can submit comments. 
Making A Welcoming Y- Understanding Inclusiveness
Over the last year, the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs has brought together leaders throughout the state to discuss the future of Diversity and Inclusion for Y's across the Commonwealth. Together we have all expressed our ideas pertaining to not only how to create inclusive Y's, but how to include all members of the communities we serve.

With the expertise of the Diversity and Inclusion Department of Y-USA helping to lead the conversation, a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force has recently been formed to help facilitate conversations and centralize resources for all Y's in the state.  The D&I Task Force is comprised of staff and CEO volunteers who are using tools that like the Dimensions of Diversity Wheel (see below.) The D&I Task Force has been able to discuss inclusion through a new lens to help all Ys move in the direction of being an inclusive welcoming Y serving and reflecting the diversity of their communities.

Through this process the task force kept coming to one question; "Why Now?"

Our mission as Ys is to serve all with respect of a person's individual identity. To be a welcoming Y means that we are aware of how people think of themselves and what may be necessary to make them feel comfortable in our Ys and participating in our programs. As our communities continue to change, Ys have to be responsive to changing demographics. Often this means increasing understanding and awareness of different cultures, beliefs, perceptions, and customs.

Additionally, as many know, state policies are in the works that address discrimination of gender-identity in public places. These policies will require Y's to have systems in place that support these policies. This will impact members and staff as well as our communities. The desire of the D&I Task Force is to help Ys have the conversations and resources to make any changes in policies and practices to reflect inclusiveness before it is a legislated requirement.

Gender is not the only topic of conversation, nor does it cover the priority of issues concerning age, race, nationality or social & economic status; but it is one of the topics that we are working on and of which we want to be more knowledgeable.

Together the D&I Task Force is looking forward to aiding Y's across the state as we move toward a more inclusive alliance of Y's. During the next couple of months look forward to tools and resources that will aid in our efforts to make our Y's, Y's for everyone.

Your Y As A Cause
As Ys in Massachusetts prepare their annual reports a part of this process is to collect data on the benefits a Y has in its community. The Alliance provides a community benefit collection sheet that is used locally by Ys to prepare their individual community benefit report and collectively by the Alliance to tell the story of the impact of our Ys in the Commonwealth.
Many ask why we do this.
It has two primary purposes. The first is to help Ys communicate to potential donors why the Y is a charity worthy of support. While almost all universally think well of the Y, not all understand that we are nonprofit charitable community service organizations. Demonstrating all that the Y gives back to its community through scholarships, financial assistance, direct community support and programs that seek to solve pressing community social problems all help draw a more complete picture of the Y as a charity.
The second purpose is one that we don't usually think about until it is too late. There are those who are working to challenge the tax exempt status of Ys. Because Ys are all locally owned nonprofits these challenges are usually local rather than national.
These challenges take the shape of Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) programs, classification of services, and court rulings with regard to charitable immunity for personal injury claims.  And these challenges have made their way to Congress and the IRS.
So we encourage all Ys to think of how to portray themselves as what they are; charitable community service organizations. Having your 501(c)(3) designation is only as strong as the Ys ability to prove that it is functioning as charitable organization. If successfully challenged a Y could lose its charitable nonprofit status in part or in whole.
We want to get ahead of any challenge.

In looking at the picture above think of how each of these parts of your Y organization, its supporters, and its stakeholders perceive your Y. How can you tell your story of membership, for example, as a charitable cause that the IRS, media, or donor would understand and agree with? This is part of the purpose of the exercise of the community benefit report.

To help with this process look at the diagram above. This is from an IRS memo late in the last century. This is lens the IRS uses to determine if a nonprofit organization is truly serving the public interest. How can your Y demonstrate that it is fulfilling one if not all of the four spokes of this diagram?
To further illustrate the lens of the IRS, below is a synopsis of the view of the IRS regarding health clubs, a category into which Ys are frequently placed.

Key to this advice, which is used by the IRS, in part, and by proxy courts, to determine the charitable status of an organization once nonprofit status is challenged, is
a) that there has to a "benefit of the community at large" and
b) that "the community benefit test must be applied on a case by case, community by community basis".
All of us are only as strong as each of us. A challenge to a Ys tax exempt charitable status and purpose in Oregon will have implications for our Ys in Massachusetts.
We encourage you to use the community benefit reporting process as a way to work with staff and volunteers to demonstrate the importance of your charitable work. Help us establish that when someone thinks of Y they not only think of it positively but they also know it as a charitable nonprofit providing necessary services to its community.
A Letter From Tom Weber 
Recently Tom Weber, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care visited South Shore's State Street Early Learning Center to see the work that has been conducted under the Race to the Top - Early Learning Center Challenge. Commissioner Weber has also visited Springfield's Pre-K Expansion Grant site and Cape Cod's early learning center.
Commissioner Weber sent a letter to South Shore that exemplifies their work and is reflective of the work of our Ys in the state. All should be very proud of his comments.
"The quality of an early education and care program matters in its ability to support a child's positive growth and development, and Massachusetts has engaged in a comprehensive initiative to support all programs in attaining high levels of quality, through the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS).  The South Shore YMCA's State Street Early Learning Center is part of this important effort to help children learn and succeed -- their program meets high levels of standards in the QRIS thereby ensuring that they provide safe and enriching environments for children, support educators' professional development and qualifications, thoughtfully engage with families and the community, and demonstrate strong leadership.  The State Street Early Learning Center has effectively utilized the Department of Early Education and Care's resources and technical assistance to help strengthen their programs for the benefit of the children and families that they serve.  I commend their hard work, achievements and significant contribution to early education program quality in Massachusetts overall."
  -- Thomas L. Weber
Commissioner of Early Education and Care

 South Shore YMCA State Street Early Learning Center Staff
Free Training on Coaching Healthy Habits
In collaboration with Y Sports Directors in Massachusetts, ChildObesity180 a project with Tufts University, has created free online training is six minutes long and quickly engages sports staff while promoting healthy habits.
You can access information on the training by Clicking Here.

Grants Available for EnhanceFitness
Starting January 6, 2016  Ys are eligible to receive stipends for launching or expanding EnhanceFitness, an evidence-based exercise program for older adults, particularly those living with arthritis.
Implementation stipends will be provided on a first come, first served basis to all eligible* YMCAs that apply until all funds are expended. Applicants will apply for one of two Stipend Levels:
  • 50 Participants level: $2,500 and requirement to serve 50 unique participants within 8 months.
  • 100 Participants level: $4,000 and requirement to serve 100 unique participants within 8 months.
Interested YMCAs should submit their application online through EasyGrants at on or after January 6, 2016. Stipends will be awarded in the order in which applications are received until all funds are expended.
Questions about this opportunity can be sent to  or current EnhanceFitness providers can contact their designated Technical Advisor ( Maureen Pike  or  Kenitra Robinson ).
To learn more about EnhanceFitness please visit HERE.
*Please not that only Corporate Y Associations (including independent Ys) in good standing with Y-USA that have not received Y-USA EnhanceFitness start-up funds in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016 are eligible to apply. Individual branches of a multi-branch association may not apply.

Nationwide Campaign Information Sessions
The Nationwide Campaign is designed to change perception of the Y through a national positioning campaign, leveraged by Ys triggering donations locally. Workshops for a "deep dive" into the details of the campaign and how your Y can best prepare to engage in all aspects to be successful are scheduled with facilitators are Donna Bembenek and Courtney Weiland from YMCA of the USA. 
Date and location options:
  • Tuesday, January 5, 2016 from 1:00-5:00pm:Old Colony YMCA - Striar Family YMCA, 445 Central St.,
    Stoughton, MA 02072
  • Wednesday, January 6, 2016 from 9:00am-1:00pm:YMCA of Southern Maine - Greater Portland Branch, 70 Forest Ave., Portland, ME 04104
Fee:  $10 per person (to cover food costs).
Leadership Competency Credits:   For staff who are Multi-Team or Organizational Leaders, you will earn and can enter 4 credits after attending the session.
Registration deadline is Monday, December 28th 
(but don't wait as registration is limited due to space!).
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