PR Playbook: Growing with the Community: Groundbreaking for the YMCA



YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee

Summary: The Milwaukee YMCA’s largest capital project in its history ($55 million) needed community support and positioning as a leading resource in the city.



  • Planned a daylong celebration including neighborhoods, community and civic leaders, and tons of kids.
  • Planned a “unity walk” and community picnic
  • Media blitz with information about the YMCA’s programs and potential
  • Grassroots efforts involving neighborhoods


  • Saturated the media pre-event with YMCA benefits
  • Media blitz on day of event, profiling YMCA community integration
  • Grass-roots volunteers went door-to-door within a 10-block radius of the new site, distributing information and invitations to the event
  • Volunteers visited neighborhood churches, businesses, and schools with information on the project.


  • 500 attendees, exceeding everyone’s expectations
  • “News Chopper” footage of the unity walk
  • live broadcasts from three television stations
  • WCMS AM broadcasting live from the site for the entire afternoon
  • Surge in donations after the event

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