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How Grace Hoadley Dodge Furthered Women's Rights Within the YMCA

Written by Staff Member Christopher Gonzales

 

March is Women's History Month, and during this time, we honor the achievements of influential women. One such woman is Grace Hoadley Dodge, who devoted herself to the YMCA. Dodge was born on May 21st, 1856, in New York City, the eldest of six children in a wealthy and influential family. Dodge's upbringing enabled her to become a leader in the women's education and empowerment movement. She began her involvement with the YWCA by helping two women's rights organizations merge and become the Young Women's Christian Association. She volunteered for the group's women's workshops throughout the late 1800s and became a strong supporter of the YMCA's goal after seeing how it could benefit women's physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Dodge's dedication and contributions to the YMCA were significant. In 1906, she became the first woman to hold a position on the National Board of the YMCA. She used her influence to advocate for greater opportunities for women within the organization, and she supported the establishment of women's branches and programs.

Dodge's philanthropy became a vital contribution to the YMCA. In 1907, she donated $100,000 (which is equivalent to approximately $2.8 million today) to establish the National Training School for Women and Girls. This school provided education and training to women who aspired to become YMCA leaders. Eventually, the school became a part of Columbia University and trained countless women who went on to become leaders in the YMCA and other organizations.

Apart from her involvement with the YMCA, Dodge supported various philanthropic endeavors, including vocational education for women and organizations that aimed to improve the lives of women and children.

Grace Hoadley Dodge's legacy is a testament to the power of women's leadership and philanthropy. Her contributions to the YMCA established the organization as a leader in women's empowerment and education. Furthermore, her generosity paved the way for countless women to pursue careers in leadership and public service.

 

Additional Reading:

Columbia University:  https://www.tc.columbia.edu/articles/2000/december/a-tribute-to-grace-hoadley-dodge/

Smith College: https://findingaids.smith.edu/agents/people/40330

New York Historical Society: https://www.nyhistory.org/blogs/grace-hoadley-dodge-and-the-travelers-aid-society-of-new-york