Volunteer instead of B.I.D.

Our History 

Citizens Committee was founded in 1975 by Osborn Elliott and Jacob Javits to encourage ordinary New Yorkers to volunteer to fill the gaps left by the city's cutbacks during fiscal crisis. Today, this spirit of volunteerism and local engagement still drives our work.

Thirty years ago, Citizens Committee sprang up in the face of a citywide crisis. Today, our city is still facing crises, although they can be all too invisible to many of us. Skyrocketing wealth and unprecedented growth have enriched many New Yorkers, but left many more behind. One in five New Yorkers lives in poverty, and millions struggle with affordable housing, gang violence, environmental justice, lack of access to green spaces and healthy food.

This means that as far as we’ve come in the last 30 years, there is still a long way to go. Every New Yorker deserves to have a safe place to live and work, and take pride in their neighborhood. Today, Citizens Committee for New York City is engaging New Yorkers in struggling communities by offering resources and grants for community groups and leaders.

About Us

Citizens Committee for New York City stimulates and supports self-help and civic action to improve the quality of life in New York City and its neighborhoods.

We believe that residents are uniquely situated to define and act on the issues affecting their communities. When provided with modest support, resident-led volunteer groups can effectively mobilize community resources to improve quality of life. Citizens Committee supports their efforts by offering workshops, grants, training, networking events, helpful publications, a lending library, a meeting space and one-on-one assistance. We currently support over 200 resident-led efforts in all of the five boroughs.

Since 1975 we have promoted the spirit of volunteerism and local engagement that drives our work. We are fortunate to live in a city where people feel connected to their neighborhoods and genuinely want to make a difference, but volunteers can’t do it all alone, and that’s where Citizens Committee for New York City and our supporters make the crucial difference


We believe that residents are uniquely positioned to identify their own needs, create a vision for community life, and mobilize their skills and resources to address local issues. Citizens Committee for New York City's projects change to adapt to the changing needs of our city, and no one knows better what their neighborhood needs than the people who live there.

In 2008, Citizens Committee for New York City awarded more than $200,000 in cash grants and provided hundreds of hours of skills building workshops and project implementation assistance to 125 groups in 96 neighborhoods. We mobilized more than 2,500 volunteers who dedicated upwards of 27,000 volunteer hours to improving their own communities. 

In partnerships with hundreds of grassroots groups and thousands of civic minded New Yorkers throughout the city, we:

•    Transformed vacant lots into vibrant community gardens
•    Made fresh produce available to New York City’s neediest families
•    Linked thousands of working poor families with millions in tax credits
•    Created arts and cultural programs
•    Created recycling and composting programs in neighborhoods and schools
•    Beautified city blocks
•    Advocated for tenants rights
•    Watched out for each other’s safety
•    …And much more

These projects bring millions of dollars in benefits to the city each year.

For more information about any of Citizens Committee's programs, contact Arif Ullah, Director of Neighborhood Resources.

Contact Us

Citizens Committee for New York City
767 5th Avenue, FL 26
New York, NY 10153

Call (212) 989-0909

Fax (212) 989-0983


Email staff members


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