Wilson-Gray YMCA

Stabilizing a long-abandoned neighborhood



Hartford, Connecticut


Campaign to construct a new 43,000 square foot YMCA located in North Hartford's most economically distressed community.


There were many reasons to doubt the campaign could succeed. The Hartford Y had developed a bold vision to build a new center for an extremely disadvantaged community that had been long abandoned by the city’s corporate stalwarts. It resolved to launch a campaign despite a lack of formal campaigns for over a decade. A large feasibility study completed by other counsel provided no recommendation as to campaign scope, making goal-setting a challenge. Questions about campaign viability loomed among a dubious board.

"...a bold vision for a disadvantaged community abandoned by corporate stalwarts..."

K2 Role &

Sometimes, however, such issues pale in significance beside the urgency of a community in need. North Hartford residents suffer from the state’s lowest median family income and education levels to its highest rates of gang activity. The community had been abandoned and needed a reason to believe in its future; they embarked on this campaign simply because it had to succeed.

"Your report is spot on and well presented. You certainly know this business!"

Our recommendations for the case for support underscored the YMCA’s future as a one-stop human services hub that would host vital programs offered by a half-dozen local nonprofits.

Solicitation training and careful cultivation prepared board members to both give generously and solicit successfully. K2 orchestrated the recruitment of an influential Civic Leadership Committee – a group of high-profile corporate leaders that helped secure major philanthropic investments from Hartford’s largest corporations.

Ultimately, more than $14.5 million was raised (against a $10 million goal) to build the Wilson-Gray YMCA, including a lead gift that named the Y in perpetuity. By keeping area seniors healthy, helping families escape poverty, and giving kids a place to play and grow, the Y continues to anchor the resurgence of a grateful community.

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