In honor of Women’s History Month, it’s time for another #CSBASpotlight on an amazing women-owned businesses in Central Square — YWCA Cambridge! Founded in 1891, YWCA has provided housing and a safe environment for young girls and women in the Cambridge area while teaching them a variety of life skills. Learn more about this inspirational organization from YWCA Cambridge’s Fund Development Manager, Whitney Mooney!

“Since 1911, YWCA Cambridge has provided safe, affordable housing and support services for women and girls. At the turn of the century, as young women migrated from rural areas to work in the mills in urban areas such as Cambridge, the YWCA responded by opening a boarding house with other amenities for those young factory workers. Our founding mothers understood that in order to become independent, women needed a safe environment in which to learn essential professional and daily living skills.

From our affordable housing program to our shelter for homeless families to our girls only leadership development (GOLD) and other programs, there are always a variety of activities in our buildings. Our Tanner Residence is home to 103 single women, many of whom struggle with mental illness, addictions, or other trauma. Our Director of Housing & Shelter Services meets with Tanner residents to help them with housing and job searches and applications in their efforts to become self-sufficient. Renae’s Place, our family shelter, is home to 10 families at a given time. Every day, our case managers work alongside the families to help them gain stability as they learn to budget, find childcare, and gain admission to job training programs. On a weekly basis, we host 8th grade girls for our GOLD program, designed to empower young women to become leaders and to know more about their academic and career options.

Eliminating racism and empowering women is our mission and the foundation of our work. Individually and collectively, our staff is mission-driven. We thrive on seeing the women in our housing programs thrive. We love seeing young women graduate from GOLD and come back four years later seeking recommendations for college admission.

YWCA Cambridge has evolved dramatically since our 1891 founding. Although we continue to provide safe, quality housing for women and families, over the years we have operated a swimming pool to provide lessons and recreational swimming for women and girls, hosted one of the area’s largest AA programs, been the site of after school and summer programs for children and youth, convened various leadership and empowerment programs for women and girls, and so much more.

Located in the heart of Central Square, we are close to many of our partner agencies and the service providers that our clients and residents rely on for additional help. Because Central Square is a transportation hub, we are able to draw program participants from many different areas. We also value the diversity of the people who frequent Central Square and hope that a mix of people continue to live and work here. YWCA Cambridge wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in Cambridge!”

— Whitney Mooney, Fund Development Manager at YWCA Cambridge