The YMCA of Metro North is excited to announce that it was awarded a generous $150,000 grant from the Cummings Foundation to support its free Swim & Water Safety initiative over the next three years. Aimed at reducing drowning incidents and enhancing water safety skills within the greater Lynn, Peabody, Saugus, and Melrose communities, the initiative will provide 200 free swim lessons to youth in Lynn and over 200 CPR/First Aid and Lifeguard certifications to community members and YMCA staff each year.

“The Cummings Foundation is supporting a necessary and mission-critical program at the YMCA,” says Kathleen Walsh, President and CEO of the YMCA of Metro North. “Water safety and education is essential to keeping our community safe and with the increase in fatal drownings recently, we want to train as many people as possible with life-saving water safety skills to reverse this disturbing trend.”

Provisional data from the CDC shows that there has been a dramatic increase in deaths from drownings in the United States over the past three years, with over 4,500 drownings in 2022, over 4,600 in 2021, and over 4,500 in 2020 compared to just over 4,000 deaths in the two years prior. Notably, according to the World Health Organization, one of every 5 drowning victims in the U.S. is a child, making drowning the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 years old.

The program is particularly critical for the YMCA in Lynn, which serves a number of people of color facing economic challenges. Recent studies highlight disparities in swim lesson access, with only 46% of Black and 47% of Latinx children receiving lessons compared to 72% of white children, and drowning rates for Black children ages 10-14 are over seven times higher than for white children. Despite 9 in 10 U.S. parents recognizing swimming as a key life skill, 3 in 10 cite affordability concerns as a barrier to water safety classes.

“We live in an area literally surrounded by water: rivers, lakes, ponds, and beaches, making the YMCA in Lynn the ultimate location to launch this initiative,” says Jessica Murray, Association Aquatics Director, YMCA of Metro North. “In many cases, fatal drownings are preventable with proper water safety training and swim instruction. We are on a mission to eliminate fatal drownings in our community, and the Cummings Foundation funding will go a long way to help that cause.”

The YMCA of Metro North was selected as one of 150 local nonprofits awarded out of 715 applicants to share in the $30 million in grants awarded this year through Cummings Foundation’s major annual grants program.

About the YMCA of Metro North
The YMCA of Metro North is a leading Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization providing health, fitness, and youth development programs to the nearly 69,000 community members it serves annually. The association awards more than $1,900,000 in financial assistance to members and program participants in summer camp, Y Academy, youth programs, and medical intervention programs. The association instructs 5,000 swimmers and 200 lifeguards in swim safety every year at its locations in Lynn, Melrose, Peabody, Saugus, and Stoneham. Learn more:

About the Cummings Foundation
Woburn-based Cummings Foundation, Inc. was established in 1986 by Joyce and Bill Cummings of Winchester, MA and has grown to be one of the largest private foundations in New England. The Foundation directly operates its own charitable subsidiaries, including New Horizons retirement communities, in Marlborough and Woburn, and Cummings Health Sciences, LLC. Additional information is available at