Bayer YMCA Groundbreaking and Renaming

Anonymous donor gift of an additional $1 Million brings total project cost to $2.5 million

A groundbreaking and dedication ceremony held in St. Louis signaled the start of $2.5 million in renovations for the newly renamed Bayer YMCA. Construction on the facility, formerly known as the Monsanto YMCA, is being supported with a $1.5 million grant from Bayer and an anonymous donor gift of $1 million.

When completed, the Bayer YMCA, located in the North St. Louis area of the city, will include an expanded Early Childhood Education Center, expanded health and wellness services, the addition of a new STEM & Teen Technology Center and community kitchen.

"As a continuation of our longstanding partnership with Bayer, we are thrilled to begin what are substantial upgrades planned with the mindset of addressing some of the most critical challenges facing north city," said Tim Helm, president and CEO of the Gateway Region YMCA. "Bayer continues to play a leading role in making a positive difference in the St. Louis region. We are so grateful for Bayer's ongoing support and generosity in working with the Y to provide programs and services in response to the needs of the community."

The Bayer YMCA has a historic past. After several attempts, it was founded in 1912 as the Afro-American Young Men's Christian Home Association. In 1964, it's Junior Kindergarten program, which was initiated as part of the White House's program on early education, became a model for the national Head Start program.

"This YMCA branch is a beacon for the North St. Louis community. Over the years, it has provided much needed services to combat violence, health disparities and develop educational opportunities outside of the classroom," said Al Mitchell, Vice President of Corporate Engagement for Bayer. "Bayer believes health and education are great equalizers for the obstacles many families may face. Our hope is that this investment will continue the great work this branch has demonstrated since our initial commitment in 1981."

Specifically, the Bayer YMCA renovations will include the following:

Expanded Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC). Youth of all ages continue to struggle to find safe, constructive places in the community. The ECEC, after-school activities, and improved summer camp programs will provide more opportunities and exposure to STEM activities in a safe and nurturing environment.

Expanded health and wellness services. According to the CDC, the national median prevalence of individuals diagnosed with diabetes is 10 percent, for St. Louis, the number is slightly higher at 13.5 percent. An expanded fitness area and new fitness programs will allow more individuals to take part in the Y's Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring, Diabetes Prevention and other chronic disease prevention programs to meet growing community needs.

New Bayer STEM & Technology Center. A state-of-the-art technology center that will be able to offer a variety of STEM activities, including robotics and coding classes, STEM camps and family STEM nights. This addition will also allow for increased enrollment in the Learning Labs program, which allow students who are underperforming in reading or math to improve.

New STEM Focused Community Kitchen. According to the CDC, rates for overweight and obese residents over age 16 in the City of St. Louis is 61 percent. A modernized STEM Focused Community Kitchen and expanded community garden will provide more education and food outreach in a community recognized as a "food desert" and in need of healthy eating resources.

New family changing room. These facilities will provide a safe and constructive environment for families with young children, and ensure the Y continues to be a place for all.

Today's announcement is the first of four significant announcements planned by the Gateway Region YMCA in the coming months. During 2019, Bayer and Bayer Fund, a philanthropic arm of the company, has awarded over $16 million to various non-profit organizations within the St. Louis region.