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Forward with the Y: Ryan Louis's journey from Strong Kid to College Man

Ryan Louis

Threshold to a bright future: Ryan Louis reflects on the Y journey that has brought him to the open doors of Springfield College: "Over the last 18 months, the Y has become my most important community. The Y is where I go to make plans for my future, to better the world around me, and when I need a friend. The people at the Y are my second family."

Being accepted to college is among the most profound transformations that a young person can experience. The Y acts as a catalyst and support system for thousands of New York teens who require an extra boost to get ahead.

One young man whose journey was enhanced by the YMCA is Ryan Louis, a self-described "beneficiary of the YMCA's Annual Strong Kids Campaign and a leader in the Y Scholars program."

The Cure for Isolation

Ryan originally came to the YMCA to escape his high school lunchroom. Gramercy Arts High School has more than 1,200 teens and can be a pretty chaotic place - and not always the most welcoming environment.

As soon as he began going to the Y during lunch period, Ryan was hooked. He attended Y Leaders Club meetings during study periods and within a few weeks was invited to join a new Y program called Y Scholars - a kind of "Super Leaders Club."

The goal of the Y Scholars program is to get teens ready to go to college - but Ryan says, "I find myself using the skills I have acquired each and every day."

At Y Scholars, teens discuss the things they will be responsible for once they leave home, as well as the things they might study in college. They investigate careers they might be interested in pursuing, and actions they can take to help them prepare for their eventual professional lives.

Last summer Ryan had the opportunity to work as a Counselor in Training at the McBurney Y Summer Day Camp. He didn't realize how much he would enjoy working with younger kids until the Y gave him new responsibilities. The experience also allowed him to use the leadership skills and team-building strategies he had learned through Y Scholars.

"Sure, we were having lots fun at camp, but I could also see how the Y is a leadership lab for New York's young people," Ryan says, "how one generation of Y members pays it forward to the next."

College is Calling

Ryan's hard work and his Y experiences paid off - he was recently accepted to attend Springfield College in Massachusetts.

Ryan's choice of Springfield is especially notable because the college shares a unique history with the YMCA. Springfield's heritage and partnership with the Y date back to the establishment of the college in 1885, when it began serving as the training ground for many YMCA executives and staff. In many ways, Springfield College is a leadership incubator for the YMCA organization itself.

"After graduating college, I hope to come back to the City and work for the YMCA of Greater New York," says Ryan. "It would be an honor to work for an organization that has given so much to me and my friends."

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the YMCA of Greater New York a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

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"I give to the YMCA of Greater New York, a nonprofit corporation currently located at New York, NY, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

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A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to New York City’s YMCA or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

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A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to New York City’s YMCA as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to New York City’s YMCA as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and New York City’s YMCA where you agree to make a gift to New York City’s YMCA and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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