(Missoula Current) The Missoula Family YMCA's drive to raise funds for an expanded facility received a large boost from the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation on Friday, pushing the organization closer to its fundraising goals.

The foundation's $2 million gift, made in support the YMCA Here for Good capital campaign, will help fund the construction of a new childcare building on the Russell Street campus next spring.

“My kids grew up playing at the Missoula Y and we want to make sure younger generations of Missoula kids have a safe space to grow, learn and thrive,” Phyllis Washington said in an announcement.

The new center, which will be named after Phyllis Washington, will double the YMCA’s capacity to care for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old. It also replaces the aging, modular infant and toddler care building and preschool classrooms.

The Missoula YMCA is the largest licensed childcare provider in the state of Montana and the new center will help alleviate the critical shortage of licensed childcare options in Missoula -an issue that local leaders and businesses have been working to address in recent years.


“Both the YMCA and Phyllis Washington have spent decades advocating for youth education,” said Heather Foster, CEO of the Missoula Family YMCA. “Early childhood education is one of the best long-term investments a community can make, and the Washington Foundation’s gift will impact our community for generations to come.”

The public phase of the YMCA’s Here for Good capital campaign looks to raise $15 million to complete its campus revitalization plan. That includes the new early childcare building, as well as building a new youth innovation STEAM center, a new fitness studio, an expanded drop-in childcare center, co-working spaces, and outdoor fitness and covered court spaces.

YMCA officials said they've raised $11 million from early supporters and are seeking community support to raise the remaining $4 million to start the project. All dollars raised support the campaign, and naming opportunities are available.

With community support, the Y hopes to start construction next April.

“We hope the community will join us in supporting the Y remodel and the building of this new, much-needed childcare center,” added Washington.