Non-profit of the week: Union Settlement

Union Settlement Association has been a long-standing organization in East Harlem since 1895; the community has embraced Union Settlement as a vital part of the neighborhood. Sara Stuart, Director of Development and Communication at Union Settlement, shared her thoughts on the organization and how much they have progressed in the past few years.

“We have created three pillars for people of all ages providing education, wellness and community building,” said Stuart discussing a recent rebranding project the organization was undergoing.

Union Settlement has opened doors for many underprivileged youth and low-income families; it has found a way to bring people of different ethnic backgrounds under the same roof. 

“In our early childhood program, we have many Hispanic families, children from Mexico and Central America, but our senior center has mostly Puerto Ricans, you can see the waves of immigration going through our program,” said Stuart.

The organization has managed to stay a staple in the neighborhood through community involvement and implementing community building.  Stuart described Union Settlement as an “anchor institution” in the neighborhood, “we’ve been here since 1895, it’s very much defined by public housing, its one of the lowest income neighborhoods in the city,” said Stuart.

“People are proud here, I think we play a wonderful community building role in that we have grown stronger in the last five years. We have created ways for people to come together and share,” said Stuart as she touched upon how Union Settlement has been able to maintain its place in the community.

Stuart discussed how important it is to tell the story of Union Settlement, “telling our story in ways that really resonate that moves the needle for us, it’s a very competitive communication environment that we are living in and New York City is filled with non profits doing great work, how do you cut through? That’s the challenge.”

Union Settlement continues to thrive and has many events coming up including Dr. Seuss Day, promoting a read-a-thon as well as their street festival later this year.


Sonya Singh