The Y: A Beacon of Hope for NYC Immigrants

13 June 2019
New Americans Story

June is Immigrant Heritage Month, a nationwide celebration of immigrants and their contributions to our country. New York City’s YMCA has been welcoming and supporting new Americans the dreamers, seekers, explorers, and political refugees from the world over — for more than 100 years, from our settlement projects on Ellis Island in 1909 to today.   

The Y's New Americans Welcome Centers (NAWC) across all five boroughs provide guidance, encouragement, and access to opportunity. Our Centers are safe havens that help immigrants achieve literacy, cultural competence, and self-sufficiency through English classes, citizenship preparation, vocational and legal support and access to critical social services. 

See what the Y's NAWC students have to say about their YMCA experience and their journey toward American citizenship:  


“Thanks to the Harlem YMCA, I have learned how to hold a conversation and properly communicate in English, and I am still improving. I have learned basic reading skills and classroom rules and etiquette. I learned how to meet new people and was able to engage with them and I have learned about government forms and how to properly read and sign them. I have enjoyed being a part of class and having a sense of community and am very happy to be an American Citizen.”

— Fahima Jama 
Harlem YMCA, Former NAWC Student


"The Y has been like a home to me. In almost 10 years, I have not been  disappointed, not even once. When I arrive to my class I feel happy and relaxed. I give everything of me each night and in return I get a sense of accomplishment. 

— Victor Cruz
Bronx YMCA, NAWC Instructor


"The Y is a place where immigrants are able to fulfill their dreams. I was able to learn that there is unity in diversity, and we are one family no matter where we come from."

— Beatrice Ajayi
Staten Island YMCA, Former NAWC Employee