Research

We build knowledge to support and improve well-being in the GTA.

Historically, the YMCA has held a holistic view of health with its recognizable Y triangle representing a healthy body, mind and spirit. Today, this holistic view embraces much of what has come to be known as “well-being.” Our research is leading the way in building knowledge to help deliver programs and services that support and improve well-being.

Life in the GTA: A Window on Well-Being Life in the GTA: A Window on Well-Being

Life in the GTA: A Window on Well-Being

This report was produced in partnership with The Wellesley Institute and is the first detailed portrait of well-being in the GTA. It is the only research that provides perspectives on well-being at the local neighbourhood level and can be used to better understand how place-based services can support well- being.


The YMCA's Contribution to Well-being in the GTA The YMCA's Contribution to Well-being in the GTA

The YMCA’s Contribution to Well-Being in the GTA

This research provides strong evidence to suggest that participation in YMCA programs and services leads to improved well-being, better general and mental health, and a stronger sense of belonging. It also shows that in neighbourhoods where there’s a YMCA, there’s better well-being, health and belonging for everyone, not just those individuals who use Y programs, services and facilities. 

About our Research

The YMCA is developing an integrated view of both the needs of our members, program participants and communities and the YMCA’s impact through the following types of research:

  • Impact Measurement and Evaluation – We evaluate the impact of the YMCA at multiple levels (e.g., individual programs, centres, neighbourhoods) in order to understand and learn how to improve our effectiveness. Highlights of our impact measurement and evaluation research and our case for support are available here: 
    View our Fundraising Research in Action Reports

  • Monitoring Well-Being in the GTAThe YMCA of Greater Toronto – Wellesley Institute Well-Being Monitor provides perspectives on current patterns in well-being, community needs, and the YMCA’s contribution to well-being in the GTA. The tool incorporates 41 indicators based on survey data collected in 2017 from 8,270 residents of the GTA and secondary data from sources such as the Canadian Census, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, and Statistics Canada. Future iterations of the monitor will allow us to begin to identify trends and changes in well-being at a neighbourhood level and assist YMCA planning and service delivery.

  • Member Voice and Satisfaction – We conduct ongoing surveys of our members and program participants to learn about their experiences with our programs and services. 

 

Other Research Initiatives

In addition to the research that we conduct within the Y to support the development and operations of our programs and facilities, we are also involved in research projects that involve the broader community. These include:

Youth Who Thrive

  • This project was initiated by The YMCA of Greater Toronto and United Way Toronto and involved a systematic review of research to identify the critical factors that help youth to thrive.
  • The review was conducted by The Students Commission of Canada and the Social Program Evaluation Group at Queen’s University.
  • Tools and resources have been developed to help others apply the findings to develop and deliver effective youth programs. For more information see: http://www.youthwhothrive.ca/
View our "Investing in Youth" Infographic (PDF)

The Black Experience Project

  • This was a multi-year research study conducted by The Environics Institute in partnership with Ryerson's Diversity Institute, the United Way of Greater Toronto, and the YMCA of Greater Toronto.
  • The research explored the experiences of individuals in Black communities across the GTA to improve understanding of their opportunities, challenges, and factors leading to their success.
  • The results are being used to help identify initiatives that contribute to the health and vibrancy of the Black community and opportunities for improving YMCA programs and services. For more information see: http://www.environicsinstitute.org/institute-projects/current-projects/black-experience-greater-toronto

If you have questions about any of our research projects or if you are interested in conducting research that involves the YMCA of Greater Toronto’s members, clients or staff please contact: research@ymcagta.org