For more than 80 years, Boys & Girls Harbor (the Harbor) has been strengthening families by empowering children to become full, productive participants in society through education, cultural enrichment, and social services. The Harbor provides afterschool and summer programming, as well as performing arts education to children and youth who reside in low-income and underserved communities throughout New York City, in particular Harlem and the South Bronx.

Our History

Located in the heart of East Harlem for the past 40 years, The Harbor is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) community-based organization founded by the late Anthony Drexel Duke, who was barely out of his teens when he established a summer camp for needy children in 1937. The Harbor continues to honor that legacy by striving to level the playing field for our students and narrow the educational and economic gap that is so often prevalent between low-income youth of color and their better-resourced peers.

The Children and Youth We Serve

Most Harbor students live in East Harlem and the South Bronx, where nearly half of families with children younger than 18 live below the federal poverty level.

East Harlem ranks #1 as the highest risk New York City community in terms of economic security, with a child poverty rate of 52.2%. Parental employment instability is more than 62%, and the median income of families with children is less than $24,000 per year. The neighborhoods that ranked #2 through #5 on this list are all in the South and Central Bronx: Morrisania, East Tremont, Mott Haven, and Hunts Point, respectively.

Highest Risk Communities in Manhattan for Children and Families

In its December 2017 report, the Citizens Committee for Children ranked New York City’s 59 community districts from highest risk (#1) to lowest risk (#59) based on risk factors that are most detrimental for children and youth. East Harlem ranks consistently among the highest-risk districts in the City.

Access to quality educational programming is critical for children from these communities to succeed, both academically and socially. Devoted parents who are struggling financially have little or no ability to pay for safe, supervised, afterschool care for their young children. As they enter adolescence, children who are not engaged in positive, structured activities become increasingly vulnerable to the inherent dangers of the streets and are more susceptible to engaging in risky behaviors.

Outcomes and Impact

The Harbor helps students develop writing and listening skills, as well as the creative, reflective, and critical thinking that helps them meet the challenging Common Core standards and improves their chances to graduate on time.

To help students resist the pressures and stresses that can lead to disengagement from school and family, and to help them avoid substance abuse and other risky behaviors, the Harbor offers positive activities that they can say “yes” to. Using the principles of Positive Youth Development, The Harbor builds on students’ assets, and helps vulnerable children and adolescents strengthen their ability to enhance cognitive skills and habits of mind, and inspire them to create an empowered vision of self.

Dedicated and experienced Harbor teachers recharge students’ sense of purpose and self-worth, and ignite a love for learning so that they may begin and continue to reimagine themselves as powerful participants in their own more optimistic future.

For detailed data on outcomes and measureable impact, see Results.

See Also

Financials