Our History

Take a walk through history to relive how a group of concerned mothers and neighborhood residents challenged themselves and the existing system in New York City to create a different type of childcare service for their children.

East Harlem Block Nursery’s grassroots movement through community activism became a model of early childhood education for the nation in the 1960s and 1970s. This early history has been captured in a book called “A School of Our Own: Parents, Power, and Community at the East Harlem Block Schools”, which describes the many struggles it took to bring about the first parent-controlled day care center to East Harlem (El Barrio).

Fast forward, and here we are at our 50th anniversary year. Much has changed over the decades at EHBN, but the vision, commitment and dedication to provide the best -- in childcare services and education -- is very much alive! We have also expanded outside of East Harlem to be part of the fabric of West Harlem’s rich history.

In this section, you can read about the founding group of parents and their children’s connection to “the Block Schools” as they remember it. We believe, like us, you will embrace and admire what a community can accomplish when there is a vision and mission driving parents to make a difference in their children’s lives.

EHBN has become an institution where all cultures are welcomed, diversity is embraced, and most importantly, opportunities abound for children and parents to grow and contribute to the centers.

We invite you to reconnect and/or become familiar with a vital community-based organization that is fifty years in the making—and the result of the positive impact of families and communities who developed the East Harlem Block Nursery model that made a difference in the New York City’s early education programs.  

For a more detailed account of the early years and first two decades of the development of our organization and parent-controlled centers, please see:

A School of Our Own: Parents, Power, and Community at the East Harlem Block Schools