In 1897, William R. Grace, an immigrant, shipping magnate, and two-time Mayor of New York City, founded Grace Institute, with the partnership of his brother, Michael, and philanthropist, Grace Dodge. Their goal was to create a tuition-free program to educate and support women in need –especially immigrant women. Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, over 100,000 women at Grace Institute have developed the skills necessary to successfully enter the workforce.
The Early Years:
Grace Institute was originally staffed by the Sisters of Charity. The curriculum guide in 1898 listed cookery, millinery, child care, Red Cross, children’s sewing, and dressmaking as course offerings, which correlated with the typical jobs available to women at that time. By the turn of the century, as the work available to women began to change, so did class offerings. Grace Institute began offering classes in typing, bookkeeping, and stenography to help women secure jobs in New York City’s rapidly growing professional sector. This training qualified women for the better-paying positions in offices that were a welcome alternative to factory work.
Throughout the early 1900s Grace Institute continued to evolve into a secretarial training program that prepared women for careers in the business world. This included instruction in shorthand, telephone technique, secretarial procedures, and business law. In 1963, Grace Institute moved from its Lincoln Center location to a new building on Second Avenue between 64th and 65th Streets. Along with secretarial skills, new courses were created to adapt to new career options for women, including fashion merchandising, food and nutrition, and clothing construction.
In the late 1990s, the Sisters of Charity, few in number, were no longer able to run the organization and professional Grace Institute staff members were hired. With new staff and curriculum, Grace Institute became more demand-driven and attuned to the needs of the labor market and employers. Grace Institute launched new administrative and customer support trainings to serve the legal, healthcare, nonprofit and hospitality industries.
In 2015, Grace Institute moved to new office training center at 40 Rector Street and created a new training program for Patient Service Representatives which launched in 2016.