Educational Alliance Opens New Manny Cantor Center Lower East Side

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The Manny Cantor Center


The Educational Alliance, a leading provider of social services and programs throughout downtown New York City, celebrated the opening of the new Manny Cantor Center today with a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception.

An innovative new facility on the Lower East Side, the Manny Cantor Center reimagines the idea of the community center and offers high-quality programs and services to people of all ages, backgrounds and income levels in one shared space. The Center opened to the public in February and 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 building was designed to create meaningful encounters among neighbors and bring Lower East Siders together over shared goals.

“It is wonderful to be able to cut the ribbon on the Manny Cantor Center, an outstanding facility that will serve so many in our Lower East Side community,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was in attendance at the event. “We now have a state-of-the-art community center that will help guide the Educational Alliance into the future while preserving our past. It is a legacy that honors the dreams of our immigrants and their families, who have worked tirelessly to put their children on a path to a better life. I want to offer my deep appreciation to Robin Bernstein for her many years of outstanding service to the Educational Alliance and our entire community. I also want to welcome our new President and CEO Alan van Capelle, who I know will carry on this excellent work and bring his own unique vision.”

“The Manny Cantor Center provides a wide range of vital services to working families in the Lower East Side.  Whether it is Head Start for children, senior programs or health and wellness initiatives, this facility has become an important community anchor.  I look forward to its continued growth,” said Representative Nydia M. Velázquez.

"It is truly inspiring to see that the Educational Alliance continues to provide critical services to the Lower East Side community 125 years after its founding.  Its tradition of public service extends into yet another century with the opening of the Manny Cantor Center – a community center for all. I look forward to the success of the Educational Alliance and the Manny Cantor Center in the years and decades to come,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron.

The Manny Cantor Center features: A 7,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art fitness center with an inclusive membership model. All members will have access to the same facilities, top-notch 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 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 reflect the neighborhood’s distinct character, history and diversity – including sunrise yoga, weekly dance lessons, pop-up dialogues with Lower East Side change makers co-hosted by MiLES, current events and issues panels co-hosted by the Lo-Down, group biking, children’s concerts and more.

“We are excited to see how much of an impact the Manny Cantor Center has made on the community, just one month after its opening,” said Alan van Capelle, President & CEO of the Educational Alliance. “Every day, more neighbors are coming through our doors, whether it’s to improve their health and wellness, provide their child with a high-quality early education experience, or learn something new at a panel in our community space. We thank our elected officials for their continued support of the Educational Alliance and the Manny Cantor Center, and look forward to being a part of a vibrant future for the Lower East Side.”

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 embodied 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.

“I know my father would be very proud of the Manny Cantor Center,” said Richard Cantor, Educational Alliance Board of Trustees Member. “It would humble him to know that the community center bearing his name is providing high-quality programs and services to all Lower East Siders, and helping them to achieve their own version of the American Dream."

“By attracting Lower East Siders of all stripes, the Manny Cantor Center has quickly become a hub for creativity, wellness, and collaboration on the Lower East Side,” said (Rabbi) Joanna Samuels, Executive Director of the Manny Cantor Center.  "Our new free and low-cost public programs embody this spirit, giving local artists, performers, and change-makers a place to share their ideas with the larger community.”

The Manny Cantor Center is the recent 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 to create meaningful encounters among neighbors and bring Lower East Siders together over shared goals.

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 Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @MannyCantorNYC

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, visit



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