The YMCA has a long, rich history of providing programming to youth. Every year, YMCAs across the country serve four million children and teens.

YMCAs need the right tools to be an asset to their communities and set their staff up for success. Let’s look at four ways the right software solutions can increase retention, drive registrations, and enhance your YMCA youth program.

1. Planning

Early, robust program planning is essential for a quality youth program. However, planning can get complicated and messy—at least without a systematic approach that breaks down each aspect, keeps tasks organized, and allows your staff to collaborate.

BellXcel’s comprehensive youth program solution can support the successful planning of a myriad of YMCA programs, including summer camps, academic camps, afterschool programs, sports programs, and more. Built from decades of experience running youth programs, BellXcel’s evidence-based Program Planner provides helpful guidance as you plan, build, and manage impactful, quality youth programs.


2. Curriculum

For academic programs, the curriculum you choose or create for your program is foundational to its efficacy. The curriculum should aim to achieve the outcomes you’re after, and it should also be fun! Most youth programming software does not offer curriculum, forcing you to rely on multiple solutions to run your program. 

On the other hand, the BellXcel platform is a one-stop shop, providing everything you need in one place. In addition to program management, it offers a best-in-class math, reading, writing and enrichment curriculum that focuses on critical areas such as life skills and social emotional learning. Additionally, your team is provided with teacher guides, lesson plans, and answer keys that you can use when implementing for your YMCA youth program.

Many YMCAs across the country have taken advantage of this curriculum. Jordan Sommaggio, the community development director at the YMCA of Southern Nevada, pointed to the curriculum as one of the most valuable aspects of partnering with BellXcel: “Our teachers love that the curriculum is both complete and customizable. Not having to lesson plan is a major draw to this model for our teachers. They also love how engaging the model is. This model is delivered in the afterschool and summer setting, where students are burnt out from a full day or year of learning. The BellXcel model makes continued learning fun.”


Watch this on-demand webinar about strategies to help you partner with schools  to expand reach.


3. Professional Development

Once your program is in full swing, you need a way to equip your staff to effectively facilitate, lead, and shape youth in your community. The best YMCA software includes tools and resources for professional development that empower staff to grow and sharpen their skills. This not only benefits students, but is also a draw for teachers and volunteers in your program.

According to learning and development professionals, time constraints are the No. 1 challenge when it comes to internal training, so why not take advantage of a solution that understands your training needs and has resources and training modules ready to go? Staff can train through the virtual platform, learning at their own pace.


4. Analytics

Even with the best intentions, planning, curriculum, and training, you can’t be sure your program is hitting the mark unless you have software that tracks program outcomes. The right software should allow you to track statistics on enrollment and participation and measure learning outcomes. 

Common YMCA program goals include increasing self-confidence, building interpersonal and life skills, improving literacy and math skills, reducing summer learning loss, driving parent or guardian engagement, and supporting social-emotional development. For example, the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington’s Power Scholar Academy (PSA) summer program helps boost kids’ academic skills, social emotional skills, and self-confidence.

Data can be valuable when tracking progress toward these goals. This is true not only for you (so you can refine your program), but also for outside stakeholders who want to know if the program has a positive impact.


The Importance of Software Designed for Youth Programming

Don’t settle for generic software that facilitates only some aspects of your YMCA youth programming. Instead, find one YMCA software partner that truly understands and shares your mission and offers everything you need to succeed in one solution.



BellXcel is committed to helping YMCA organizations effectively serve their communities. That’s why we offer free resources to educate and inspire in addition to our platform. Check out our on-demand webinar, “Designing a Winning Approach to Partnering with Schools,” to learn how your YMCA can expand its community impact.


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