On April 16, 2013, the Sioux Falls branch of the YWCA cut ties with the national organization and announced the new agency as EmBe. There were many reasons for the change, but ultimately, the organization wanted to be more connected and support and provide resources in the best possible way to the Sioux Falls community. 

When the name changed, it didn’t mean that the services had changed. After the switch, EmBe still provided all the services they did before, including childcare services, aquatics, Girls on the Run, Tribute to Women, and all other programs.


By cutting ties with the YWCA, the programs could be more specific to the community’s needs, and there was more room for local events as the national board no longer played a part in the discussion. 

Financially speaking, breaking away from YWCA was the right decision. Local YWCAs fund and support the national YWCA organization, not the other way around. In 2013 when the name change occurred, the Sioux Falls YWCA would have had to pay $25,000 in fees to the national organization. The fees only allowed them to use the “YWCA” name. Now, EmBe uses that money towards outreach programs, scholarships, and activities for children. 

Another reason to switch was the lack of representation from men. The YWCA regulations stated that only women were allowed to be on the board of directors. This is an excellent concept for a women’s organization; however, the Sioux Falls YWCA did much more than just women’s events. During the change, nearly 50% of the members were men and the organization was geared towards the values of childcare, youth, women, and wellness. As many parents who participated in the organization’s events were men, EmBe felt men needed to be represented on the board and in the decision-making. EmBe added six men to the board of directors with the name change.

Choosing a name was a long process for the organization. The board picked many words they thought would work and hosted a focus group to test them on the public. EmBe was the clear winner. 

EmBe is a shortening of the phrase “empowering you to be.” An information sheet about the new name stated, “The word ‘empower’ is a large part of the history of this organization. We have been influencing women’s lives and providing opportunities through our programs and services for years. So it’s appropriate to highlight this good work in our efforts to reintroduce ourselves. Second, when we align it with the word ‘be,’ the concept further comes to life. ‘To be’ promotes becoming and growing. Thus our name – EmBe. Empowering you to be.”

We’re currently eight months away from the tenth anniversary of the name EmBe. We couldn’t be happier with the support and love from the Sioux Falls community. We hope that EmBe continues to follow our namesake and empower all members to grow.


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