YMCA Beyond the Bell Program open additional site


YMCA Beyond the Bell (formerly known as the Virtual YMCA) helps break the cycle of poverty by closing the achievement gap experienced by low income children compared to middle income children. This year-round program takes a holistic approach to the well-being of every child. By working closely with teachers, the individual challenges of each child are identified, understood and a preventative plan of action is put in place. YMCA staff leaders are positive role models helping each student to improve literacy and numeracy skills, build social skills, develop self confidence and experience new opportunities. The program provides the children with the tools and support they need to help close the achievement gap and develop a stronger and more successful future.

YMCA Beyond the Bell focuses on four key program areas:

•  Realizing academic achievement
•  Improving health and wellness
•  Exploring culture and creativity
•  Developing social skills

We know that academic achievement has positive effects on students through increased school engagement, attitudinal and behavioural changes, increased motivation, higher attendance rates, better work habits, increased cognitive skills and better classroom behaviour. High literacy skills have shown to propel students beyond good grades by leading to higher education attainment, increased annual earnings, lower unemployment, delinquency and crime. Effective reading skills by grade 4 are one of the most potent predictors of successful adult adaptation (E. Werner, 1993). Through close mentoring, children learn effective work habits and find reward in completing homework, one of their greatest areas of need. After one year at YMCA Beyond the Bell, the majority of children show an improvement in reading by at least one grade level and the overwhelming majority of parents report that their children understood their school lessons better and their confidence improved.


Originally developed by the YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford, the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario now operate YMCA Beyond the Bell program at the following schools:


Wallaceburg (A.A. Wright Public School)
Chatham (St. Ursula Catholic School)
Chatham (St. Agnes Catholic School)
Sarnia (P.E. McGibbon Public School)


YMCA Beyond the Bell is made possible through the generosity of donors.

Our donors share our vision of ensuring each child in our communityhas the opportunity to succeed. It is only through the generosity of many that we are able to provide YMCA Beyond the Bell to the children who need it the most at no cost to their families. We are calling on the community to join us in furthering our vision to reach a greater number of children who will learn to believe anything is possible.