„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“


29th August 2022

This August, our colleagues at the Brussels Office had busy agenda ahead.

They were covering governance & movement strengthening, advocacy, projects, and funding. Their governance and policy-making work can be found here

New Additions to the Team

From the beginning of August until the end of October we’re glad to have Sarah Seelbach joining our team in the office in Brussels!

Sarah is from Germany, studying her Master's program “Human Rights Studies in Politics, Law and Society” and assists the team in the field of advocacy, policy-papers, Youth and Migration as these topics are the main focus of her interest and studies.


Due to her own roots in a local YMCA in Germany (CVJM Petri Bielefeld) she’s familiar with youth work, volunteering and the work in civil society organizations.


A highlight was Jessica’s meeting in Chicago at The Y of the USA headquarters. She is working with us as a Project Manager and Proposal Writer, a joint-position serving YMCA Europe and World YMCA.

It was a great two days where Jessica met with various teams from their international division to discuss their work in areas of movement strengthening, resource mobilization, newcomer support and integration, as well as other areas of synergies to bring Vision 2030 into action.

the y

As a result of important connections made at YMCA’s World Council this past July, YMCA Europe visited our friends at the University of Minnesota Libraries – Achieves and Special Collections who house the YMCA of the USA archive collection.

In the 1900s, YMCA of the USA played an important part in establishing parts of the European movement, thus today pieces of the history can be found there. Visiting the archives highlighted and renewed the importance of understanding where we come from and how that shapes our identity.

ymca archives

Our Project Manager and Proposal Writer spent time touring the facilities and looking through some of the Polish records.

Special thanks to Ryan Bean for hosting us! We look forward to connecting and collaborating with you and your team in the future.

ymca archives 2

Jessica also visited her childhood YMCA family camp YMCA Camp du Nord.

She started camping there at the age of six and it was, as she described, the catalyst for her and her family’s continued involvement in the YMCA at all levels to this day.

Fun fact, Jessica’s youngest sister Jenna (seen in the photo) is a camp counsellor there this summer!


Camp du Nord is a summer family camp located near the boundary waters in northern Minnesota. Its mission is to strengthen families by providing opportunities for individual and family growth, supporting spiritual development, and enhancing environmental awareness in a wilderness setting.

It has a range of programming and activities for all ages. There is daily age group programming for kids and adults and evening family events such as family campfires and saunas.  Camper can participate in water activities like canoeing and kayaking, in arts and crafts such as inkle weaving, or in sports events like the family triathlon. There is little something for everyone!

Camp du Nord is a magical place in the woods that keep families coming back year after year!



  • Working Group to draft the European Charter for Youth and Democracy

In the field of Advocacy we have been invited to consult in the drafting of the European Charter for Youth and Democracy which is being created by the European Committee of the Regions and the European Youth Forum.

The Charter will strive to build and consolidate a youth friendly democratic space to ensure the voices of young people are formally, continuously and permanently represented in the European Union.

As such, the Youth Policy Group of YMCA Europe (YPG) is launching a working group on youth participation to form proposals and consult in the drafting process. Interested volunteers are welcome to register here.

The first kick-off meeting of the working group will take place soon so sign up quickly and stay tuned for more information!

  • 7th Meeting of the European Migration Forum

Another event relating to Advocacy will be the 7th Meeting of the European Migration Forum which is organized by the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee.

It will take place from 20-21 October and will be a platform for dialogue between civil society and the European institutions on issues relating to migration, asylum and the integration of non-EU country nationals.

This month we met again with the YMCA Europe Working Group on Refugees to gather inputs to the main questions of the Migration Forum such as the access of young migrants to education and training, specific challenges and measures regarding integration, and their participation and engagement, as well as to coordinate the next steps to include young people from the movement.

  • Meet-up with the European YWCA

At the beginning of the month we also had a meet up with representatives of YWCA on the European level. The purpose of the meeting was to have a first exchange of activities and positions of YMCA and YWCA in terms of Youth Empowerment and Advocacy, and to discuss potential synergies. We learned a lot about the involvement of YWCA and are looking forward to cooperating in upcoming actions.


We are now taking further steps in the last period of the “Organic Governance and Quality Development” project as we are finalizing the collection of the project results, survey, articles and best practices in an Organic Governance Manual.

This month you can read the articles on Organic Governance in CSOs, a Health Assessment Tool for Capacity Building, the Intergenerational Approach, and Inclusion of Youth into Governance Structures.

The project is run by YMCAs of Slovakia, Scotland, Czech Republic and YMCA Europe. It is supported by Erasmus +, Key Action 2 programme. 


We continue to work on the recently launched mapping initiative to attract EU public funding, particularly Erasmus+.

As such we met with representatives from different national movements including Italy, Spain, Romania, Moldova, Georgia, Ireland, France, Ukraine, Albania, Austria, Norway, and Lithuania to further identify commonalities, strengths, and opportunities we can leverage as an area regarding this funding source. 

You are invited to contact jessica[at]ymcaeurope.com to schedule a session for your national YMCA with our Project Manager and Proposal Writer who is coordinating this initiative.

1,022,900 €

Funds received up to September 18th in response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Check here the YMCA response and projects across Europe.

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