The Heart of the City

New York city enjoys a wealth of landmarks, organizations, and worthy causes. Fortunately, it is also filled with people willing to dedicate their time and influence to these establishments in order to support, preserve, and enrich them. The leaders of the charities in this city are unparalleled in their dedication to raising funds and awareness for their projects, and each new generation provides even larger ranks of faithful supporters. Here, we present some of the city’s most cherished institutions.

New York Botanical Garden
In 1891, inspired by a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens near London, Lord Britton and his wife launched a public campaign to establish the New York Botanical Garden. Today, this non-profit organization boasts a board and staff dedicated to furthering plant research and conservation programs. The splendor of its diverse landscape, as well as its exceptional programs in horticulture and science, have made the New York Botanical Garden a distinctive National Historic Landmark.

Museum of Arts and Design
The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) was established in 1956 by philanthropist Aileen Osborn Webb with the intention of recognizing the craftsmanship of American artists. Formerly known as the Museum of Contemporary Crafts until 1979, and the American Craft Museum until 2000, MAD has undergone multiple name changes as it has broadened its spectrum of interest. Today, MAD explores the art of crafting across all fields of creative practice and has a board dedicated to the continued celebration of the value of art. Held annually each fall, the MAD Ball is the museum’s most anticipated fundraiser, with all proceeds donated to MAD’s education and exhibition programs.

Lighthouse Guild
Sisters Edith and Winifred Holt discovered their calling at a young age: to help individuals overcome the challenges of vision loss. In 1905, the self-starting siblings founded Lighthouse, an organization dedicated to preventing blindness. In 2013, Lighthouse Guild announced its renaming after merging with Jewish Guild Healthcare to broaden its services. Today, Lighthouse Guild is an instrumental resource for the blind and visually handicapped. Its mission: to help people attain the highest possible level of function “through the integration of vision and healthcare services, and the expansion of access through education and community outreach.”

Central Park Conservancy
The Central Park Conservancy was founded in 1980 by a  group of philanthropists with a steadfast passion to restore America’s first major urban public space back to its prime. Designed in the 19th century by Frederick Law and Calvert Vaux, the park experienced an unfortunate decline in the 1970s. Today, CPC’s mission is to prevent future disrepair and guarantee the park’s maintenance. Since its inception, CPC has managed the investment of more than $875 million, much of which was raised from private sources and corporations. Today, the Women’s Committee is responsible for 15% of CPC’s annual budget through their hosting of premier charitable events.

New York Public Library
Since the opening of its doors in 1911, the New York Public Library has become a staple of America’s intellectual fabric. The combination of scholarly research collections and its many community branches work together to enrich its holdings and foster accessibility. Outside its headquarters, two marble lions—called “New York’s most lovable public sculpture” by architecture critic Paul Goldberger—rest with gazes of great pride, marking the entrance of the stately Beaux-Arts building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.  Named after its mascots, the Library Lions gala remains NYPL’s largest and most anticipated annual event, celebrating arts, letters, and scholarship.

The American Museum of Natural History
In 1869, Albert Smith Bickmore—a student of Harvard University zoologist Louis Agassiz—proposed the idea of a museum for natural history in New York. With the support of William E. Dodge, Jr., Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., Joseph Choate, and J. Pierpont Morgan, the American Museum of Natural History was established on April 6, 1869, with the approval of Governor John Thompson Hoffman. Soon after, it moved to a space on Central Park West (the cornerstone of the building was laid by Ulysses S. Grant in 1874). Today, the museum has a world-class collection of more than 33 million specimens and artifacts and 45 permanent exhibition halls and galleries, including the Rose Center for Earth and Space with the Hayden Planetarium, the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, and the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs.

American Ballet Theatre & New York City Ballet
Founded in 1939 by Lucia Chase and Richard Pleasant, who built one of the most impressive repertoires of storied ballets from the past—while continually commissioning new works by the best living choreographic geniuses—American Ballet Theatre (ABT) has grown to be one of the world’s leading classical ballet companies. Over its 75-year history, ABT has performed in an astounding 139 cities across 50 countries. Today, through the leadership of artistic director Kevin McKenzie, this living national treasure continues to produce legendary performances and is celebrated worldwide—especially at home in New York, with its annual Spring Gala at the Metropolitan Opera House.
No less impressive is the New York City Ballet founded in 1948 by Lincoln Kirstein and George Balanchine. Kirstein dreamed of an American ballet where young dancers could be trained by the greatest ballet masters, and George Balanchine made this dream a reality and served as the artistic director of the company for over 35 years, inspiring all who witnessed his beautiful productions. The current Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins, now oversees 90 dancers and an impressive repertory of over 150 performances including The Nutcracker, performed annually in the David H. Koch theater at Lincoln Center. The company, which continues to match Balanchine’s values and standards, celebrates its ongoing success through its four highly-anticipated philanthropic events featuring world premieres and renowned honorees.

Museum of the City of New York
Both an art gallery and a history museum, the Museum of the City of New York celebrates and interprets the city, educating the public about its distinctive character, especially its heritage
of diversity, opportunity, and perpetual transformation. Founded in 1923 as a private, nonprofit corporation, the museum connects the past, present, and future of New York City. Gracie Mansion housed the museum from its founding until 1932, when it moved into the Georgian Colonial—style brick building on Museum Mile. The Director’s Council holds its annual Winter Ball to raise money for the museum, and the event is considered to be one of the highlights of the charity gala season.

The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering
The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering was founded in 1946 in order to support the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and its programs. With numerous committees that range from addressing patient care to education to fund-raising, the organization has become indispensable to the center’s efforts over the years. James D. Robinson III, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center affirms: “The Society has been an integral part of the Center’s history. It is a terrific association of people who make a difference, not only in fund-raising but, more importantly, in the ambiance, the heartbeat, of the whole institution.”

God’s Love We Deliver
In 1985, Ganga Stone, a hospice volunteer, was inspired by a life-changing visit to a man dying of AIDS and too sick to cook for himself. Stone began delivering food to this man regularly and quickly learned how impactful this simple act could be. With Jane Best, an organization was founded with the goal of improving the health and well-being of those living with severe illness. Through the vision of these two women, God’s Love is now a top provider of nutritious, made-to-order meals across the New York City area and attributes over 25% of its operating revenue to its signature fundraising events, including Love Rocks NYC!, Midsummer Night Drinks, and the Golden Heart Awards.

Boys’ Club of New York
In 1876, philanthropist E. H. Harriman founded The Boys’ Club of New York with the intention of removing inner-city boys from the streets of the Lower East Side, providing them a safe haven from the dangers of urban life. In 1968, the club established the Women’s Board, which helped the group’s philanthropic efforts by having members volunteer at the clubhouses and hosting fundraising events including fashion shows, dinner dances, luncheons, and other chic events. Since its founding, The Boys’ Club has had a variety of New York’s most prominent philanthropists serve on its board of trustees, proving it to be a leader in male youth development.