January 6, 2014

Educational Alliance and “The Neediest Cases”

Filed under: interesting or noteworthy archival material — susanwoodland @ 12:58 pm

According to a 1953/54 pamphlet found in the budget files, the Educational Alliance was created in 1899 to “help meet the urgent needs of … immigrants”, providing “recreation, culture and education to the Lower East Side”.  Located in the heart of the Lower East Side, the Alliance has for over 100 years provided the services most needed by the residents in the neighborhood.  As new immigrants replaced those who could afford to move out of the Lower East Side to more middle class neighborhoods in New York City and to the suburbs beyond, the Alliance has adjusted its services to meet the changing needs of the community.

The Educational Alliance has been an agency of Federation since the year Federation came into existence, 1917, and was funded every year through Federation’s merger in 1986.

In 1911 Adolph S. Ochs, the publisher of The New York Times, began thinking about the role of a newspaper in charity and helping the needy.  With his direction and encouragement the Times created the Neediest Cases Fund, held its first campaign in December 1912, and has held a campaign at the end of every year since then.

What is the connection with UJA-Federation of New York?  Although it is not clear from the files we have seen exactly when the relationship between the New York Times and Federation began, but Federation has for many years been one of the “established welfare agencies” receiving funds collected by The New York Times during the annual Neediest Cases Fund campaign.  We do have a few files from the 1970s -1980s, from the Executive VP files and the budget files with correspondence about how to distribute Federation’s share of what was raised, which makes it clear that the relationship with Federation and the Neediest Cases Fund was one of longstanding.

The Times pays all the administrative costs for the fund so that 100% of the donations go to the agencies.  From the beginning, the Times’ approach was to publish true stories of people who have been helped by donations to the Fund – helped in very specific ways by one of the welfare agencies receiving donations on behalf of the Fund. Every Sunday during the fund’s annual campaign the story of a recipient is published in the Times.

This week the story is of students at PS188 on the Lower East Side, whose after school activities are provided by the Educational Alliance.  This year, the Alliance “withdrew $4500 from the fund to buy uniform shirts for 184 middle-school students in the program.” The story about the students and the program is here.

No photographs of the Educational Alliance building activities have turned up yet in the Federation collection, but AJHS holds photographs from other collections, accessible at  Links to two photograph are here:

The building

Dressmaking class

Six of the Federation oral histories include information about the Educational Alliance; these names can be searches at to locate the audio files as well as the transcripts: Jacob Birnbaum, Doris Rosenberg, Ernest Rubenstein, Roslyn Sherman, Helen Popper and Martin D. Payson.

AJHS also holds a small Educational Alliance collection.


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