Community Collaborations

The Y works side-by-side with our neighbors. Here are a few ways the Y is partnering to nurture the potential of every child.



As a proud recipient of jcpenny's "Pennies from Heaven" program, the YMCA of Roanoke Valley is able to give children in need access to life-enriching afterschool programs at the YMCA's Magic Place.

"Pennies from Heaven," jcpenny's, nationwide philanthropic campaign, invites customers to turn small change into "pennies from heaven" by rounding up their purchases and donating the difference to local organizations. With budget cuts in education, there's never been a more important time to support afterschool programs as a valuable community resource that helps to bridge the education gap.

National research shows that one out of four students in the U.S. is on their own between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. each day.* The YMCA of Roanoke Valley serves more than 700 students each year by providing children and teens with a safe and nurturing environment around caring adult role models. Combining play with academics, the Y's Magic Place afterschool program promotes creativity, a love for learning, social and emotional development and character building. The nation's Ys are a leading resource for parents looking for educational, meaningful and fun activities outside the classroom.

The YMCA of Roanoke Valley is one of 1,100 afterschool organizations matched with a local jcpenney store that will benefit from the proceeds raised during the pennies from heaven campaign. Donations made at the Valley View mall jcpennys are donated to YMCA Magic Place.


When the school year ends, so do free meals for the millions of children in low-income households who depend on them most. This summer, the YMCA of Roanoke Valley is offering free nutritious meals to hundreds of children in the Roanoke Valley thanks to a generous grant from YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) and Walmart to feed more children through the national Summer Food Service Program. The program, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), provides free meals to children aged 18 and under while school is out of session. Nationally, more than 300 Ys will provide 7 million meals to 70,000 children this summer.

According to the USDA, 19.5 million low-income children receive free or reduced-cost meals during the school year, including two-thirds of the13,000-plus students in Roanoke City Schools alone. As part of the YMCA of Roanoke Valley's summer food program, children aged 18 and under will continue to receive [two meals a day / one meal and a snack a day]. Not only will this help thousands of children get nutrition they need for good health, but it also will help alleviate the strain on family food budgets when school is out.

Millions of children and families are at greater risk for hunger in the summer months. With so many children who lose access to daily meals when the school lunch program is over, the YMCA of Roanoke Valley is committed to stepping in and helping to ensure our children stay healthy and strong.

The YMCA of Roanoke Valley's summer food program received funding as part of Walmart's Summer Giving Campaign – a broad $25 million initiative aimed at filling the gaps created when schools close this summer. The initiative will help expand nutrition, learning and employment services to more than 110,000 U.S. middle and high school students throughout the summer months. Walmart contributed a $3 million grant to Y-USA to address child hunger.


For the last five years, YMCA Magic Place has teamed up with Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare to provide substance abuse prevention education. The Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation (VTSF) funds this partnership in order for BRBH staff to implement the Too Good for Drugs program. There are nine Magic Place sites in Roanoke City, Botetourt Co, and Salem that are covered by the grant and over 200 children in grades kindergarten through 5th grade have participated in and completed a series of 10 sessions.  Some of the children have had the opportunity to participate all three years. The same prevention messages are being built upon with age and grade level appropriate lessons.

Too Good for Drugs is a comprehensive school-based drug prevention education program designed to teach students that they are too good for drugs and to equip them with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to remain drug-free. The program is based on the latest research about resiliency, risk and protective factors, and developmental assets: factors which research has identified as critical for young people's successful growth and development.  Too Good for Drugs builds five essential life skills: goal setting, decision making, bonding with others (building, choosing, and maintaining positive friendships), identifying and managing emotions, and communicating effectively.  The program focuses on personal and interpersonal life skills in order to increase children's sense of control, responsibility and self-efficacy.

The program uses puppets and many fun interactive activities to make learning enjoyable and attention getting.  Here are a few quotes from youth who have participated in Too Good for Drugs groups:

  • “It is good to learn to stay away from drugs”, 2nd grade youth
  • “Don’t do drugs”, Kindergarten youth
  • “You aren’t suppose to take any drugs or wine”. 2nd grade youth
  • “I like the lessons where Wagner learns things and I hope he has fun with his friends”, 1st grade youth
  • “I think it is really fun”, 3rd grade youth

Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare has just been awarded a VTSF grant that will fund the next three year cycle and enable this excellent partnership with the YMCA Magic Place to continue.

AmeriCorps VISTA

AmeriCorps VISTA was founded in 1965 as a national service program to fight poverty in America. Its 8,000 members—who serve at 1,100 projects nationwide—continue to address the root causes of poverty. VISTAs focus their efforts to build the capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, and foster economic development. Rather than providing services to low-income individuals and communities, VISTAs strengthen and build the capacity of nonprofit organizations. They develop new programs, raise funds, and recruit and train volunteers. Each VISTA member makes a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project. This collaboration with the Advancement Foundation and AmeriCorps will be our second year working with this program and our first year to host a VISTA Associate for a year-long commitment Nov 2015-16.