Black & Latino Achievers Program
Black & Latino Achievers Program
1105 Elm St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
P. 513.362.2008
Hotline: 513.362.2081
Director: Karyl Cunningham
Directions: Map



About Black and Latino Achievers  Español  

Strengthening the community by strengthening lives is the heart of what the YMCA is all about. It is the focus of our YMCA Black and Latino Achievers Program, one student and one volunteer at a time.

Through the school year, career oriented adults help us engage teens in hands-on learning emphasizing college readiness, career exploration and leadership development. There are workshops, college tours, Toastmasters and more.

Each year hundreds of area students are changing the direction of their life, growing spiritually and intellectually, because they are a YMCA Teen Achiever. Since our Program’s beginning, it has awarded over $200,000 in scholarships, assisted youth with over $4 million dollars in awarded scholarships and engaged more than 4,500 adult volunteers through a network of corporate and community partners.



History of Black and Latino Achievers

It all began in 1968. A group of Black staff called the Black and Non-White Y Secretaries (BAN-WYS) was established to work with metro YMCAs to address important concerns of people of color. Two years later, the group was discussing a program designed to motivate African American teens toward academic and career success. First conceived by Quentin Mease, that program was the Young Black Achievers of Houston, Texas. By 1971, the Harlem YMCA branch launched the very first YMCA Black Achievers Salute Gala and Teen Program in the format it is known today – and it quickly spread to branches and associations nationwide, including Greater Cincinnati.

Actually even before Harlem’s program, our Cincinnati staff began cultivating support for such a meaningful and consequential effort. By 1979 it became a reality and our first YMCA of Greater Cincinnati Black Achievers Committee was established. Those special men and women gifted our community with a legacy that will live on for generations.

Today, our Black & Latino Achievers Program is one of the region’s largest programs of its kind, partnering with area organizations and adult role models to inspire and encourage teens of color to pursue post-graduate work, establish careers and give back to a community that helped guide them on their journey.




Program Components  Español

Teen Achievers Student Registration Form  English    Español



Teen Achievers Program

The Achievers Program curriculum is developed by YMCA staff, and executed by community and business volunteers - our Adult Achievers. 

Our curriculum consists of three major components:

College Readiness

Career Exploration and Leadership Development



Click here to learn more about the components of our program.

Our YMCA Teen Achievers Program activities focus on study skills/time management, interviewing techniques, financial management, team-building, field trips, community service learning projects, career assessment and more. It strongly incorporates the Abundant Assets - 40 critical factors for the successfull growth and development of young people - and centers around the relationships with adult professional mentors and teens. Learn more about the 40 Abundant Assets here.


At the Y, we know that community and corporate involvement is critical to building networks and opportunities for youth. To that end, our program centers on the relationship established between volunteer mentors and youth, with an emphasis on career clusters. Clusters are workshops dedeicated to specific areas of professional interest. Youth participants and mentors, who are experts in their field, complete projects that are designed to provide students with an opportunity to explore their career interests through real-life application of skills. Career clusters include: Arts and Humanities, Business, Communications, Computers, Education, Engineering, Health and Medical, Law and Government, and Vocational and Technical disciplines.




Program Benefits


Scholarship Opportunities

The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati and its academic partners award scholarships to Teen Achievers within the Black and Latino Achievers program.

Scholarship opportunities include:

Morehead State University

  • Two full scholarships

Northern Kentucky University

  • One full scholarship

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

  • One full scholarship

Humana Corporation

  • Five monetary scholarships at $2000 each

Macy's Department Stores

  • Two monetary scholarships at $1000 each

Formica Corporation

  • One monetary scholarship at $500




We have additional opportunities for workshops that help Achievers gain information and resources about financial aid.  Knowing how to go is the first important step to college preparation.


Program Outcomes


  • 100% of senior Achievers graduated from high school.
  • 90% of students were accepted into institutions of higher learning.
  • 80% of students increased their knowledge of college readiness material.
  • 80% of students reported that they knew how to prepare for a job interview.

Questions? Call Karyl Cunningham at (513) 362-2008 or email


Adult Achievers/Volunteers


Click here to fill out a Volunteer/Adult Achiever application.



Meet A Program Volunteer

Ralphfiel Farrar
Senior Recruiting Specialist
Johnson & Johnson Global Recruiting Services
2012 YMCA Achiever

"When I initially volunteered with the YMCA Black and Latino Achievers, I really didn’t know what to expect from the students. I have learned much more than I felt that I taught them. Like many Achievers before me, we take our collective experiences, and collaborate on programs and lessons to share with the students.

I challenged the students to think bigger when they thought about their career aspirations, and provided them industry knowledge, that in some cases their parents would not have. Through the experience, I have learned how to engage this current generation of students and hopefully lit the flame of success and created the “Above Average Attitude.” Having this opportunity to teach, coach, and share career perspectives, has also helped further develop my classroom leadership style, public speaking, and communication skills, turns out we were achieving together.  

I am proud to have been named as an Achiever for the YMCA, and even prouder of the impact, even if it was small, that I had on the 90+ students this year."


Do You Share Our Passion?

We’re looking for Greater Cincinnati career oriented adults with a desire to help us inspire young people to pursue dreams and goals. If you have a few hours to give, or if you know a teen who can benefit from this program, please call Karyl Cunningham at (513) 362-2008 or email


Sign Up


Click here to fill out a student application to the YMCA Black and Latino Achievers program.


The Achievers program is free and is open to all teens grades 7-12, regardless of race, ethnicity, background or religion.


2013-2014 School Year Ages Breakdown


Our Partners And Sponsors






Karyl Cunningham
Executive Director

Niel Hartman
Program Coordinator

Mario Rodriguez
Program Evaluation Director