The Anthony Bowen YMCA

The Anthony Bowen YMCA was the first YMCA in the world established for African Americans during the time of segregation. It was founded in 1853 by Anthony Bowen, who had formerly been enslaved.

In 1905, the A. Bowen Y was reorganized and made a part of the YMCA of the city of Washington. In 1912 the 12th street branch was opened between S and T streets, NW, where they operated for the next 70 years providing activities and a safe meeting space for members of the African American community. Some of the more notable members of the community that were known to frequent the Y included Joe Louis, Dr. Charles Drew, Marcus Garvey and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

In __ the Bowen YMCA began a redevelopment project to turn it’s dilapidated building into a modern, mixed-use facility featuring 170 residential units, retail space and underground parking. The new center offers a full-service fitness and wellness center, child-care facility, gym, indoor swimming pool, Internet café, administrative offices and a rooftop terrace.

City First Bank partnered the Anthony Bowen YMCA on the redevelopment project utilizing the Bank’s New Market Tax Credit program. As a condition of receiving NMTC equity, the Y entered into a community benefits agreement with City First that requires them to provide subsidized and fee free services to low and moderate income families equivalent to the value of the tax credit equity that benefited the project, approximately $4.7 million.

Although the neighborhood is gentrifying, the A. Bowen YMCA is committed to continuing its long-standing tradition of serving the low-to-moderate income families in the community. Low-income families will be offered a community membership at about $80 annually. Childcare will be offered with 1/3 of the slots discounted for low-income families and 1/3 reserved for families with subsidy from the DC Department of Human Services. Services to be offered include health and nutrition counseling, a diabetes prevention program, and healthy kids day programs.

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