Kips Bay Celebrates 50 Years in the Bronx
This year, Kips Bay celebrates the 50th anniversary of our arrival in the Bronx. When we came to the Bronx in 1969, we were based out of one site. We were introduced to a new neighborhood and a new community of young people. Over the years, we have become a familiar and respected name in the Bronx, known for providing local youth with opportunities and helping them succeed. We are proud of our accomplishments in these last fifty years. Most of all, we are proud of having provided so many young people with a second home where they felt valued, accepted, and prepared for the future. We look forward to many more years of new partnerships and new initiatives in the Bronx. To commemorate this milestone, we will hold two major events this year, our 50th Anniversary Gala and the 16th Annual Day for Kids Festival & Steven Bonano Memorial 5K Run.
Kips Bay was founded in 1915 in the Kips Bay neighborhood in Manhattan. Local citizens were concerned about unsupervised children and teenagers roaming through the neighborhood. The Kips Bay Neighborhood Association began offering sports and other activities to keep the local youngsters busy and off the streets.
By the 1960s, the Kips Bay neighborhood was no longer a high-needs area – other parts of the city needed the help much more. In 1969, the Club relocated to the Southeast Bronx to meet the borough’s need for services to young people. We opened the Lucile Palmaro Clubhouse, our flagship site, at 1930 Randall Avenue in the East Bronx.
The Palmaro Clubhouse was built in the middle of the Castle Hill community, a high-crime, high-poverty neighborhood where many local youngsters were deprived of enrichment. Few programs existed to keep young residents safe, supervised and active during after-school hours and summer. The Club provided these children with a new opportunity to learn life skills like swimming, pursue their talents in the arts, athletics, and academics, make friends in a safe setting and become young leaders in their community. Kips Bay attracted the community’s children and teenagers and continued to grow to accommodate new members and more program offerings. In 1988, our name was formally changed to the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club to reflect that we were serving girls as well as boys.
In 1976, we added our swimming pool and two new classrooms, and in 1984 we added an outdoor recreation area and a 9,000 square foot auditorium that became the home of our performing arts program. In 2000, we opened the Coudert Sports Complex, which includes an ice rink, basketball court, baseball field and air dome for indoor soccer and games. Now, once again, we are on the cusp of another major expansion project so that more children can attend Kips Bay.
Our work and our partnerships with elected officials, city agencies and generous supporters have helped us expand our reach and strengthen our programming. We now have nine sites in the Bronx and Camp Sebago, located in Harriman State Park. We serve over 10,000 young people each year. We now have two Clubhouses, with the Frederic R. and Margaret Coudert Clubhouse having opened in 2010 to serve a new geographic area in the West Bronx. We offer a full range of enrichment and recreational programming, four school-based programs, two community centers located in public housing, two H.E.L.P. sites in transitional housing for homeless families, and we hold the lease to Camp Sebago in Harriman State Park in upstate New York.
Some of our unique contributions over the years include:
Becoming one of the largest service providers of the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program which trains local teenagers for the world of work;
The development of a robust and prestigious performing arts program that has yielded well-known alumni like Kerry Washington and Jennifer Lopez;
Providing services to children from homeless families through our H.E.L.P. sites
Our close relationship with the New York Design Center and the interior design industry, producing the one-of-a-kind Kips Bay Decorator Show Houses in New York and Palm Beach, Florida
Our new partnership with Astor Services for Children and Families, which will make mental health services part of our programming available to Club members
All of this remains possible because of our many supporters and friends. As we reach the 50th anniversary of our arrival in the Bronx, we wish to thank all of you for investing in our children.