Educational Alliance has served Lower Manhattan since 1889. Originally a settlement house for East European Jews immigrating to New York City, the history of the Lower East Side and the history of Educational Alliance are deeply intertwined.
In addition to basic classes and programs on how to be a good American, our flagship building at 197 East Broadway offered a creative outlet via the Educational Alliance Art School, recreational respite in the Rooftop Garden (serving 10,000 people per day in the summer of 1903), cultural programming in the theater (Eddie Cantor made his stage debut there in 1905), and other escapes from cramped tenement life.
In the 1940s, as the population of the Lower East Side changed, so did Educational Alliance. We shifted from being volunteer run and introduced social service programs overseen by trained professionals. We were one of the first organizations to offer Head Start for early childhood education, and we recently addressed the needs of the aging population of the neighborhood by helping establish one of the first Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities.
Our history is one of embracing all of the new arrivals to the Lower East Side, while still maintaining special ties to our Jewish heritage. In addition to our original building, which now houses the Manny Cantor Center, Educational Alliance operates three other freestanding community centers–the 14th Street Y, Center for Recovery and Wellness, and Sirovich Center for Balanced Living–as well as a network of community schools.