History of BCNY
In 1876, philanthropist and entrepreneur E. H. Harriman coined the name "Boys' Club," founding the country's first official Boys’ Club. His goal was to get inner-city boys off the streets of the Lower East Side and into a place where they would be safe, learn better manners, and engage in more productive activities. The original clubhouse started with three boys, and daily attendance averaged less than 100 during the first five years. While our core mission of providing a safe haven from the streets has remained constant, our vision and range of programs have expanded dramatically since our humble beginnings. We have moved from being simply a refuge from the dangers of urban life to an organization that encourages boys and young men to seek the highest standards of scholarship, moral development, and physical achievement. We offer hope for a better future and challenge boys to reach their full potential. Along with encouragement, we provide boys the opportunity to acquire skills to make their goals a reality. For without hope for the future, boys have no reason to strive; but without the skills to achieve their dreams, hope is just an empty promise.
Today, BCNY serves nearly 4,000 boys who are members of our three full-service clubhouses – Harriman Clubhouse on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Elbridge T. Gerry, Jr. Clubhouse in East Harlem, and the Marion McMahon Abbe Clubhouse in Flushing, Queens. Our membership is 44 percent Latino, 38 percent African-American, 14 percent Asian or Pacific Islander, and 4 percent Caucasian, with an average family income of $25,770. More than 75 percent of our membership is at or below the poverty line. We seek to address the evolving social, emotional, health, creative, educational, and vocational needs of our members in meaningful, lasting ways. In doing so we aspire to become thought leaders in boy development—a growing field of interest in youth services and one in which we draw from longstanding experience.