The Lower Eastside Girls Club was founded in 1996 to address the historic lack of services available to girls and young women on the Lower East Side. The effects of inner-city social turmoil which took place in the 1960’s and 70’s throughout the nation hit the Lower East Side community in Manhattan very hard. Our neighborhood experienced unprecedented real estate abandonment and disinvestment as riots flared, buildings burned and drugs were rampant. Many social service agencies closed their doors and moved during these years, including a branch of The Children’s Aid Society and a chapter of what is now Girls Inc.
One of the few agencies to remain open and "tough it out" was the Boys Club of New York, operating two full-service facilities for boys. Yet, when boys and girls clubs nationwide merged in 1986, becoming the agency now known as Boys & Girls Clubs of America, few noticed that The Boys Club of New York, over 100 years old and operating a large facility on the Lower East Side, opted out of the merger. By 1990 the Lower East Side had become the last neighborhood in the United States with the "boys only" Boys Club distinction. A diverse group of Lower East Side women consisting of mothers, workers, artists, educators, scientists, athletes, business women and community activists organized in 1996 to address this obvious inequity. Soon thereafter, The Lower Eastside Girls Club was founded.