The YWCA of Santa Monica was incorporated in 1929. We shared a facility with the YMCA on 6th Street in Santa Monica until the late 1960’s. Realizing how very different the two organizations had become, the YWCA Board of Directors made a decision in 1969 to move and by 1972 the Board had purchased our current property with two older buildings, built a main building and was operating as the YWCA of Santa Monica.
Today, the Board of Directors owns the land and three buildings located at 2019 14th Street, Santa Monica, California. The building on the east end of the property was built in 1932 as a home for girls. The cottage on the west end of the property, which became known as the Kiwanis Cottage in 2004, was rented as income to support the eastern most building, which was run by the Grand Court, order of the Amaranth until sometime in the 1960’s. The YWCA purchased this property when it became vacant and used the home for offices and program delivery. The main building housed our physical fitness, computer technology programs, administrative offices and activity rooms.
In 1996, after several years of research, the Board of Directors began a Capital Campaign to remodel the home. Destroyed by the Northridge Earthquake on January 17, 1994, the home was rebuilt to its original structure and opened in March 1998 as a home for young women emancipated from foster care. This completed a cycle: 66 years after being opened as a home for girls, the home was once again opened to six young women in their efforts to become independent by providing a stable living environment. In 2003, we received permission from the City of Santa Monica to serve up to 12 residents.
The YWCA in Santa Monica is home to more than 2,500 women and girls from over Westside 10 communities. To better reflect the geographical areas served, we expanded our name to the YWCA Santa Monica / Westside on December 20, 2001.
Founded in 1858, the first YWCA of the USA was a boarding house for women and girls adjusting to the new urbanized lifestyle of the Industrial Revolution. As women’s economic and social roles changed, other YWCA’s sprang up around the country providing housing, job training, advocacy, healthcare, physical education and community involvement opportunities aimed at developing leadership and self-confidence. As the YWCA movement developed, the wording of the Mission was altered several times to become more inclusive and to better serve the purpose of a growing, multi-faith, ethnically diverse organization.
Today, as in the beginning, the YWCA, both nationally and locally, is committed to helping women reach their full potential and acting to correct societal conditions affecting women and girls regardless of their race, religion or economic situation.