The Educational Alliance

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The Alliance's flagship building, 197 East Broadway, in the early 20th century.

The Educational Alliance is a leading social institution 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.[1]

A massive fundraiser organized by Jewish philanthropists Isidor Straus, Samuel Greenbaum, Myer S. Isaacs, Jacob H. Schiff, Morris Loeb, and Edwin R. A. Seligman, raised $125,000 to buy land and build the organization's five-story flagship building at 197 East Broadway.[2]

In the early years, the "chief aim" of Educational Alliance classes was "Americanization" and use of the Yiddish language (derisively called "jargon") was banned for its first ten years.[citation needed] Classes for children and adults were offered on the English language, American history and civics, stenography, cooking, and more.

The Alliance Art School, founded in 1905 and then re-organized by Abbo Ostrowsky in 1917, trained some of the most famous American visual artists of the mid-20th century including Chaim Gross, Elias Newman, Philip Evergood, Ben Shahn, Leonard Baskin, Concetta Scaravaglione, Moses Soyer and Isaac Soyer, Joseph Margulies, Jo Davidson, Dina Melicov, Leo Gottlieb, Peter Blume, and Abraham Walkowitz.[3] Ella Ostrowsky, Abbo's sister, taught textiles and batik in the Arts and Crafts Studio which had both educational and commercial aims.[4]

The Educational Alliance also offered a 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.[citation needed]

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.


  1. ^ New York Times
  2. ^ Bellow, Adam (1990). The Educational Alliance: A Centennial Celebration. New York: Educational Alliance. p. 36. 
  3. ^ Bellow, Adam (1990). The Educational Alliance: A Centennial Celebration. New York: Educational Alliance. 
  4. ^ Dolan, Joanne (1998). "The "New Deal" Child Artist: Textiles from the Educational Alliance Art School". Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings (1-1-1998): 390–399. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 

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