The Educational Alliance
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The Educational Alliance is a leading charity that has been serving Downtown Manhattan since 1889. Founded as a partnership between the Aguilar Free Library, the Young Men's Hebrew Association (now the 92nd Street Y), and the Hebrew Institute, the main purpose was to serve as a settlement house for Eastern European Jews immigrating to New York City.
A massive fundraiser resulted in funds to build the organization's flagship building at 197 East Broadway. In addition to basic classes and programs on how to be a good American, The Alliance offered a creative outlet via The Alliance Art School, recreational respite in the Rooftop Garden (serving 10,000 people per day in the summer of 1903), and the theater (Eddie Cantor made his stage debut there in 1905), and other escapes from cramped tenement life.
As the population of the Lower East Side changed, so did The Educational Alliance. In the middle of the last century, The Alliance shifted away from being volunteer run and introduced social service programs overseen by trained professionals. In the 1960s, The Alliance pioneered Operation Street Corner, aimed at curbing teenage delinquency. The Alliance was one of the first organizations to offer Head Start for early childhood education. Recently, The Alliance addressed the needs of the aging population of the neighborhood by helping establish one of the first naturally occurring retirement communities, for which it provides services.
Today, the flagship building remains at 197 East Broadway, and it is now complemented by twenty-eight other sites, including the 14th Street Y at 14th Street and First Avenue, residential and outpatient drug treatment facilities, counseling and afterschool programs in New York City Public Schools, older adult residential and community center facilities, and more.