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Creating a Fresh Language for a New York Institution

In 1876, philanthropist and entrepreneur E. H. Harriman founded New York City’s first Boys’ Club with the goal of getting inner-city boys off the streets of the Lower East Side and into a place where they would be safe, learn better manners, and engage in more productive activities.

Today, the Boys’ Club of New York serves nearly 4,000 boys who are members of their three full-service clubhouses – Harriman on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Elbridge T. Gerry, Jr. in East Harlem, and the Marion McMahon Abbe in Flushing, Queens. In its 135 years of continuous operation, the club has positively influenced the lives of nearly a million young men.

In 2009, the Boys' Club of New York approached us to help them design a better way to talk about their impact in boys’ lives. Moving beyond just being a safe haven from the streets, the Boys' Club of New York had evolved to help young boys and young men seek and attain the highest levels of scholarship, moral development and physical achievement.

We created new messaging and language best captured by the inviting line, “A Better Future Starts at Our Door.” Importantly, we also recommended that this venerable institution had earned the right to join the ranks of other iconic New York organizations known only by their initials. Hence, the Boys' Club of New York became BCNY.