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Rebuilding the East Harlem Center

For more than 60 years, Children’s Aid has served the East Harlem community, and our commitment to the children, youth, and families of East Harlem remains unwavering.

We are temporarily closing the East Harlem Center so that we can rebuild. Children’s Aid is currently in a sales contract to sell the open space portion of the East Harlem Center—the basketball court and approximately half of the picnic/playground area. The funds from the sale will be used solely to rebuild a new East Harlem Center—one that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act—and support Children's Aid programs in East Harlem. The existing center, which is nearly 100 years old and has seen far better days, will be replaced with a modern facility that responds to community needs and priorities, and enables Children's Aid to deliver high-quality programs in the kind of facility the community deserves.

In addition to the sale proceeds, Children’s Aid leadership is seeking additional financing to ensure the programs and services the East Harlem community needs most will be incorporated into the new building.

Property to be Sold

Diagram of East Harlem Center property

A—Property on which new East Harlem Center will be built.
B—Property in contract for sale.

The New East Harlem Center

From May through September 2018, Children’s Aid partnered with Hester Street, a community, planning, design, and development nonprofit, to engage the families, youth, staff, and neighbors of the East Harlem Center in the design of the programs and space of the new center.

Engagement Process

Beginning in May 2018, families, youth, elected officials, organizational representatives, and the larger East Harlem community have shared their favorite things about the center, and their priorities for spaces and programs in the future center. The engagement process has included a variety of large public meetings and small focus groups and culminated on September 8 with a community celebration and the release of a final priorities report. The report highlights the community’s biggest priorities about the new center and will guide Children’s Aid and the Community Advisory Committee in the design and construction of the new center.

East Harlem Center Timeline

You can read the summaries of the three large public meetings as well as the final priorities report:

Community Advisory Committee

To continue engagement, Children’s Aid has established a community advisory committee after an open application process. In addition to representatives from CB 11 and the offices of local elected officials, Children’s Aid sought out center participants, center alumni, community residents, and representatives from other organizations serving the neighborhood. The advisory committee, listed below, will guide the design and construction process forward to ensure the rebuild plan is:

  • responsive to the needs of East Harlem children, youth, and families;
  • aligned with Children's Aid's mission, vision, and values; and
  • financially viable for generations to come.

Members of the Community Advisory Committee

  • Michelle Booker, Office of Congressman Adriano Espaillat
  • Neven Cepeda, East Harlem resident and East Harlem Center youth participant
  • Pilar DeJesus, East Harlem resident
  • Raja Flores, Children’s Aid alumnus and doctor at Mt. Sinai
  • Kesha Graham, East Harlem resident, East Harlem Center parent/alumnusi
  • John Green, East Harlem resident and Community Board 11 member
  • Shana Harmongoff, Office of Senator Brian Benjamin
  • Ja’Nai Harris, East Harlem Center alumnus and kindergarten teacher
  • Gabriel Hernandez, Office of Assemblymember Robert Rodriguez
  • Denise Jerez, East Harlem Center alumnus and East Harlem Center resident
  • Nilsa Orama, Chair, Community Board 11
  • Pennylane Ortiz, East Harlem Center parent and Children’s Aid Trustee
  • Jose Rodriguez, East Harlem resident and East Harlem Center parent
  • Tammy Rodriguez, East Harlem resident and East Harlem Center parent
  • Chantanae Singletary, Office of Councilmember Diana Ayala

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