Our History

 YWCA Greater Baton Rouge History

The YWCA Greater Baton Rouge is a non-profit organization affiliated with the YWCA of the USA, which has a rich 150+year legacy of social justice. The YWCA was first organized in 1943 to serve only white women and girls. Local black women formed the Maggie Nance Ringgold Unit of the YWCA eleven years later. 

  • The two co-existed until 1965, when national convention action correctly mandated all YWCAs in the country to desegregate. White members of the local YWCA voted to disaffiliate from the YWCA of the USA (at a meeting where the Unit members were not allowed to vote), seceded from the national organization, changed the organizational name to the Young Women’s Christian Organization (YWCO) and retained the YWCA’s assets, including its building. Eventually the YWCO was dissolved.
  • In 1967, the YWCA Greater Baton Rouge reorganized as an integrated association, was re-chartered in 1968 by the YWCA of the USA, and began its early and renowned racial justice programming. Today the YWCA continues to work for the elimination of racism and the empowerment of women. Key programs include:
    • YWCA Early Head Start: high quality child care and education for families with low-incomes and children 0 – 3 as well as pregnant women with low-incomes
    • YWCA Health Services: 
      • YWCA ENCOREplus:  breast cancer education, outreach and referrals for screenings; 
      • YWCA RISE: HIV/AIDS education, outreach and testing; and
      • YWCA SIHLE: teen pregnancy and STD prevention programming; and
    • YWCA Racial and Social Justice.