Educational Alliance Opens Innovative Manny Cantor Center On Lower East Side

- New Community and Cultural Hub to Serve People of All Ages and Backgrounds -

Mar 04, 2014, 09:35 ET from The Educational Alliance

NEW YORK, March 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Educational Alliance, a leading provider of social services and programs throughout downtown New York City, celebrated the opening of the Manny Cantor Center today. An innovative new facility on the Lower East Side, the Manny Cantor Center reimagines the idea of the community center and offers high-quality services for people of all ages, backgrounds and income levels in one shared space. The Manny Cantor Center reflects the Educational Alliance's 125-year-old commitment to serving the diverse Lower East Side community.

The Manny Cantor Center, the Lower East Side's new community and cultural hub, is the product of a $55 million transformation of the Educational Alliance's flagship building at 197 East Broadway. The gut-renovated, LEED-certified, 103,000 square-foot, six-story building was designed by Platt Byard Dovell White Architects to create meaningful encounters among neighbors and bring Lower East Siders together over shared goals. The Manny Cantor Center recreates the role of the community center as a site for interaction and collaboration among diverse populations.

From light-filled early childhood classrooms, to a state-of-the art fitness center, spacious art studios and a beautiful top-floor community space for community events and rental, the Manny Cantor Center's unique programming includes:

  • A 7,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art fitness center featuring the latest equipment, training and group exercise classes for people of all backgrounds, income levels and ages with a deliberate commitment to an inclusive membership model. All members will have access to the same facilities, classes and amenities, whether they're paying market rate or a reduced price.
  • Nationally recognized Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms alongside Educational Alliance's private early childhood preschool, inviting deep collaborations among teachers, parents and our children.
  • After school programs for teens that welcome all backgrounds and abilities, regardless of ability to pay for services.
  • Innovative programs including College Access and Success, a partnership with the Borough of Manhattan Community College, the City University of New York, and New York University, which helps prepare parents of children in our Head Start Programs to earn college degrees.
  • The Educational Alliance's renowned art school -- one of New York City's oldest community arts schools -- nurtures the community with a full range of ceramics, drawing, painting and sculpture classes for all ages.
  • Holistic senior and older adult programming provides empowering classes, workshops and social events focused on maintaining personal health and motivation through fitness, general wellness, arts and culture.
  • Creative educational public and community programs that will reflect the neighborhood's distinct character, history and diversity.

"I am delighted to unveil the Manny Cantor Center and open its doors to Lower East Siders of all ages and backgrounds. The Center truly will be a living laboratory for the re-imagined community center – one that brings our diverse community together over shared goals for our neighborhood, our city and beyond," said Robin Bernstein, President & CEO of the Educational Alliance.

"I am honored be a part of the new leadership overseeing the Manny Cantor Center," said Alan van Capelle, who will succeed Robin Bernstein as President & CEO of the Educational Alliance this month. "As a Lower East parent with a child who'll be attending preschool classes at the Manny Cantor Center, I look forward to using the new facilities to connect with other parents and to interact with my neighbors. This is an exciting and transformative moment in the history of the Educational Alliance and for the Lower East Side community at large."

"The Manny Cantor Center is poised to remain a vital resource for the Lower East Side for the long-term, engaging this vibrant neighborhood's diverse communities under one roof," said Russell Makowsky, Chair of the Educational Alliance's Board of Trustees. "This first-of-its-kind community center is a testament to the Educational Alliance's tireless work and longstanding dedication to serving New Yorkers."

"The Manny Cantor Center's state-of-the-art facilities have the incredible opportunity to serve the Lower East Side community in a way that speaks to its enormously diverse, creative and vibrant population," added Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Executive Director of the Manny Cantor Center. "We want to create a hub wherein people can feel welcomed and enriched and where they can also give back. We look forward to seeing what our community can accomplish in this shared space together."

The Center is named for Manny Cantor, the late father of Richard Cantor, former Chair of the Educational Alliance Board of Trustees. Manny Cantor immigrated to the United States from Poland as a teenager in 1921. After working as a stock boy while studying English and completing his education, Manny eventually started his own wholesale dry goods business and became a successful businessman. Later dedicating himself to giving back to his community, Manny Cantor truly embodies the pursuit of the American Dream, the pioneering spirit of the Lower East Side and the dedication to service that informs the Educational Alliance's mission.

"In a way, it's how unremarkable my father's story is that makes it so worthy to be the namesake of this building. It is not a story of great academic or professional accomplishment, but rather a lesson of how much can be achieved in a short period of time by setting a clear example of how life is to be lived, and passing it on from generation to generation," said Richard Cantor.

2014 marks the Educational Alliance's 125th year of serving the Lower East Side Community, which will be celebrated at a gala on March 6, 2014. The official dedication ceremony for the Manny Cantor Center will take place on April 10, 2014. More information about the Manny Cantor Center is available at

The Manny Cantor Center is the flagship building of the Educational Alliance on the Lower East Side. Founded in 1889, the Educational Alliance is a community-based nonprofit organization, offering a wide range of programs in downtown Manhattan, including early childhood education, after school activities, senior centers, college prep programs, meals for the homeless, an art school, subsidized housing, health and fitness classes and addiction services. The Alliance is a Jewish organization and proudly serves people from all ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds. For more information,

The Manny Cantor Center, a project of the Educational Alliance, is a state-of-the-art, 103,000 square-foot, six-story community and cultural center located at 197 East Broadway on the Lower East Side. The Center offers high-quality services for people of all ages, backgrounds and income levels including: a new health and fitness center, a Jewish preschool, Head Start and Early Head Start programs, parenting programs, a senior center, an Art School, a Teen Center and cultural programs. For more information on the Lower East Side's new hub, visit

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SOURCE The Educational Alliance