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 and 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 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



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 successful growth and development of young people - and centers around the relationships with adult professional mentors and teens. 

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 dedicated 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/Entertainment, Business/Entrepreneurship, Engineering/Technology, Health/Medicine, and Law/Government.


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

Program Benefits


Scholarship Opportunities

The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati and its academic partners award scholarships to Teen Achievers who meet the criteria and are in their senior year, preparing for college.

Scholarship opportunities include*:


Morehead State University

  • Two full tuition scholarships

Northern Kentucky University

  • One full tuition scholarship

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

  • One full tuition scholarship

University of Cincinnati

  • One full tuition scholarship

Thomas More College

  • 50% reduction in tuition

*Additional scholarships will be announced as they become available.


Additional Opportunities

  • College tours
  • Paid summer internship with Humana
  • View live surgeries at The Christ Hospital
  • Toyota Mentoring/Engineering Project





Adult Achievers/Volunteers


Click here to fill out a Volunteer/Adult Achiever application



Community and Business Volunteers

Since it began, the Achievers Program has engaged more than 4,500 adult volunteers. Over 40 professional mentors continue to be actively involved in the program.


Dear students/parents:

We are currently not taking Achiever students until July 2015. If you have any questions about our program please contact Mr. Rodriguez at

Academic and Business Partners




Karyl Cunningham
Executive Director

Mario Rodriguez
Program Evaluation Director