Develop confidence, resilience, academic skills, and adult/family support that enables the children we serve to become responsible, self-sufficient adults.
Individuals and families are healthy, informed, and empowered to achieve self-sufficiency and to be engaged, responsible community members.
Our original company name was The Association for the Benefit of Colored Children in the State of New York (also known as Colored Orphan Asylum).
THE SUCCESSOR AND REMAINING ENTITY OF THE COLORED ORPHAN ASYLUM THAT WAS DESTROYED DURING NYC'S RACE RIOTS IN 1863, Harlem Dowling-West Side Center for Children & Family Services works to develop confidence, resilience, academic skills, and adult/family support that enables the children we serve to become responsible, self-sufficient adults. Founded in 1836 as the Colored Orphan's Asylum, the organization provides family preservation, family support services for children with development disabilities, after school programming, evidence-informed interventions, groups, and Emergency Food Pantry services to individuals residing in the New York City area.
Harlem Dowling was one of the first charitable institutions in the United States dedicated to children, and the very first to provide for "children of color". Founded by Anna Shotwell and Mary Murray, the orphanage quickly outgrew its first home, on West 12th St. near Sixth Avenue. By the 1840s, twenty years before the Civil War, larger quarters were constructed on Fifth Avenue between 43rd and 44th streets. The women hired James McCune Smith, the first African American doctor in America, to provide for the orphans. On July 13, 1863, during the draft riots, those who objected to fighting in the civil war burned the asylum to the ground. Miraculously, none of the 233 children residing at the orphanage were killed. The orphanage relocated first to 51st Street, and then to 143rd Street between Broadway and Amsterdam.
Welcome to the Harlem Dowling website. We hope you will take the time to learn about the services we provide to the community. Our children and families are in communities where daily living has been most deeply ravaged by the continuing pandemic, and the impact of rising costs due to inflation and other challenges of life in NYC. Harlem Dowling preserves the family unit by keeping children safe, at home in their community.
The Board is most proud of the everyday dedication of agency staff and managers, who deliver high contact services to vulnerable people with the kind of care and respect that encourages change, healing and growth. This is the heart of our service to the community through Harlem Dowling's emergency food pantry, after school and summer programs for children, cash assistance for food and other critical bills and Community Parenting Partnership and Family Support programs, which enable children to remain at home with their families. We are also deeply grateful to incredible donors, who have enhanced the lives of our children by providing wonderful, special experiences, services or gifts that are so important in enlarging their lives.
From a Board perspective, new officers were elected in June 2022 and I look forward to the continuing collaboration with our incredible Executive Director and a passionate, energetic team of Board members.
We continue our strategic partnership with Children's Village, another historic and well respected agency serving the needs of vulnerable children across the United States. We remain focused on building a long-term, solid foundation for the future of Harlem Dowling by attracting committed donors and growing our social media presence.
Thank you for your interest in Harlem Dowling.
Harlem Dowling Board of Directors