In an increasingly globalized society with rapidly changing demographics impacting communities of all sizes, YMCAs across the United States are discovering the need for – and significant advantages of – changing what it means to engage in global work. Since 1918, the University YMCA has hosted programs to foster international understanding and cultural awareness and provide service to international students, faculty, and staff. Our programs include international collaboration projects in Sierra Leone as well as local programs aimed at cultural exchange and communication.

Additional information can be found on each program by following the links below.



Sierra Leone Partnership

An international partnership program between the University YMCA and the Sierra Leone YMCA that seeks to:

  • Foster the growth of the next generation of cause-driven leaders through learning opportunities both abroad and at Illinois.
  • Demonstrate the impact of a partnership-based strategy in addressing grand challenges in sustainable community development and to communicate best practices to peer institutions using a social justice lens.



New American Welcome Center

The YMCA’s New American Welcome Center (NAWC) is designed to help immigrants—also referred to as newcomers—fully integrate into American society and prepare receiving communities to be welcoming and inclusive. Programs and services include:

  • Integration Services
  • Collaborations with community leaders and businesses
  • Strategies to connect and build cross-cultural understanding between immigrants and U.S. born residents


International Dinner

The University YMCA & The International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) partner to present the Annual International Dinner & Performance Night. The evening includes:

  • Family and friends in a fun-filled night of food and performance
  • Food from all over the world
  • Performances from community and campus members










Want to get involved?

Contact _______ at —— or call at 217-337-1500