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Special Project

Special Project
From the 3rd Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

“My Y Story.” Video Content Series

Finalist in Video Series

About this entry

The goal of the "My Y Story." video content series was to raise awareness for the Y's mission to strengthen communities, families and kids through programs and services that promote youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

"My Y Story." is an extension of the Y's national "For a better us." multimedia positioning campaign that focuses on nationwide unity and strengthening of community bonds through programs and resources available at the Y's 2,700 locations across the country. The campaign, which first launched in 2016, aims to change perceptions about the Y and raise its awareness as one of the country's most effective and enduring nonprofit organizations. The Y continues to bridge gaps and bring "us" together—kids, adults, seniors and families—through its commitment to strengthening communities.

The series showcased how Ys across the country offer numerous programs and resources to bring "us" together, including safe places to play; academic enrichment programs; newcomer engagement programs; healthy living and prevention programs; college and career readiness programs; mentorship and volunteer opportunities; and much more.

The three main objectives of this series include elevating the perception of the Y as a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening community in more than 10,000 communities across the country, showcasing the Y as more than just a place to swim or workout, as well as displaying the different volunteer opportunities offered and how viewers can make an impact in their own communities by getting involved through Y programming.

Why does this entry deserve to win?

The Y partnered with three notable figures – chef Marcus Samuelsson, Olympian Allyson Felix and actor Ethan Hawke for the "My Y Story." content series – all with varying backgrounds and connections, showcasing their individual association to their hometown/local Ys.

This campaign displayed the unique challenges of each figure's respective communities and how the Y is a resource in these communities nationwide. The three-part video series showcased each personality visiting their local Y to participate in programs by interacting with Y members, discussing how the Y addresses nationwide challenges and how the Y has impacted their own lives.

Each individual's Y visit was filmed and produced into a short "episode" and shared via the Y's YouTube channel and digital platforms, as well as the personality's social channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

This original content series first debuted with a trailer video featured on the Y's YouTube channel, giving viewers a sneak peek of the three episodes to come, followed by the release of each video at a separate time.

In episode one of the content series, chef Marcus Samuelsson teaches the importance of giving back to the community, one meal at a time, with local kids from Y youth programs in Harlem, NY. The Harlem Y was chosen as the location of the shoot because of Marcus' strong connection to the Harlem Y as a donor, volunteer and guest speaker.

In episode two, Olympian Allyson Felix leads a hands-on experiment with kids from Y programs at the Crenshaw Family YMCA in Los Angeles, CA, using her running career to peak their interest levels in STEM. As a child, Allyson would often attend the Crenshaw Family YMCA, further solidifying her connection.

In the third episode, actor Ethan Hawke tries a few of the arts classes available at his local Y in Brooklyn, NY, focusing on the creativity of the arts with people of all ages (kids, teens and senior women). Ethan is a long-time member of the Y and former Y camper who believes the Y brings together people of all backgrounds into one, integrated community.

All three videos leveraged existing relationships as Y supporters, bringing these three stories to life in a meaningful and relevant way for a national audience. Following the release of each video, the talent participated in national media interviews to discuss their partnership with the Y and offer behind the scenes insights of their content series participation, either in-person or via phone.


Through the authentic Y stories of chef Marcus Samuelsson, actor Ethan Hawke, and Olympian Allyson Felix, "My Y Story." successfully showcased the diverse program offerings at Ys across the country.

These results included more than 94 million earned media impressions, more than 5 million social media engagements, more than 4.5 million views on the combined YouTube videos, and placements in top-tier consumer and lifestyle media outlets such as ESPN, Food & Wine, Business Insider, Women's Running, PopSugar, MSN, Ad Week, Ad Age, Thrive Global and more.

The video content series' ability to showcase the diversity of the talents' background stories and the location of their Y, demonstrated the Y's vast reach and impact. Additionally, pitching talent around key moments in time, such as Allyson Felix during the Olympics, allowed the series to gain media interest as a whole due to her participation, while also getting access into the current news cycle.

Overall, the results of this video content series generated national media interviews with the celebrity partners, national video pick-up with editorial coverage that included Y-USA key messages, national broadcast coverage, digital exclusives for each video, film opportunities shared via the Y and talent social media channels.


Video for “My Y Story.” Video Content Series

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Catalyst Public Relations, a division of Endeavor Global Marketing, YMCA of the USA


Entry Credits