University of Minnesota YMCA and YWCA

In 1887, with the moral and financial support of both the City of Minneapolis Young Men’s Christian Association and the St. Paul YMCA, 13 charter members led by student Franklin H. Bassett organized the University of Minnesota YMCA. The University YMCA was an independent association (separate from the Minneapolis YMCA) created to meet the spiritual needs of the men on campus. Established in the Men’s Union building on campus at 13th Avenue S.E., the early years were spent focused on “bringing young men to God, through Jesus Christ.” But as the University community expanded, so too did the mission of the University YMCA.

The University YMCA remained devoted to the campus community and served to provide the necessary services for new students: welcome, orientation, campus tours, counseling, printing and distributing student handbooks for all incoming students. By the turn of the century, the University YMCA student services expanded to include: financial aid, student employment, housing services and preparatory classes through its Education department. As these programs became too large for the University YMCA staff to manage effectively, the University began to take over responsibility for their operation.

The University of Minnesota Young Women’s Christian Assocation grew out of the Minneapolis, which was founded in 1891. In the 1920s and 1930s, the group cooperated with the YMCA on support for peace and integrated student housing.