Harlem Prep's Financiers and Supporters

One of the most fascinating aspects of Harlem Prep was the school's collection of supporters, including philanthropies, corporations, and local activists. Who made up this eclectic coalition?

A Mix of Philanthropy and Business, with Local Support

Since Harlem Prep was almost entirely privately funded, where did these funds come from? And why did these organizations -- most of them white-led and part of the corporate elite -- support the school? (School budgets ranged from around $250,00 in its early years to more than $620,000 in the school's later years -- click to view them.) Understanding this latter question is key to understanding the history of Harlem Prep.

Most substantially, Harlem Prep received financial support from the some of the country's largest philanthropies and (white-owned) corporations, particularly (in order of relative prominence): Ford Foundation, Standard Oil of New Jersey, Carnegie Corporation, Mosler Foundation, Chase Bank, Rockefeller Foundation, and IBM, among many others businesses.

 Exxon CEO at Harlem Prep, donating a large check, with Carpenter and students. Photo courtesy of Hussein Ahdieh.

Exxon CEO at Harlem Prep, donating a large check, with Carpenter and students. Photo courtesy of Hussein Ahdieh.

Other interesting documents (among many), including support from political leaders:

According to various documentation (alongside photographs and oral histories), Harlem Prep was also supported by many Black activists in the Harlem community, community groups, and major and minor Black personalities including: prominent psychologist Dr. Kenneth Clark; President of Fisk University and the United Negro League Dr. Stephen J. Wright; Harlem Hospital CEO Dr. John Cave; jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie; TV personality Bill Cosby; jazz musician Sammy Davis, Jr.; actor and activist Ossie Davis, musician James Taylor, (white) conservative commentator William F. Buckley, Jr., Nation of Islam President Minister Louis Farrakhan, activist (and Malcolm X lawyer) Percy Sutton, actress Ruby Dee, U.S. Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, and civil rights leader A. Phillip Randolph.

(NOTE: Did you remember someone not on this list? Let me know! I am currently working these into a spreadsheet with file attachments.)


Headmaster Edward Carpenter

 Administrator Dr. Hussein Ahdieh (left) and Headmaster Dr. Edward Carpenter (right). Photo courtesy of Hussein Ahdieh.

Administrator Dr. Hussein Ahdieh (left) and Headmaster Dr. Edward Carpenter (right). Photo courtesy of Hussein Ahdieh.

Perhaps this quote from a 1970 grant report to the Ford Foundation sums up Carpenter's role in Harlem Prep: "Mr. Carpenter has devoted time, energy, money, love and patience to develop the school, its students and the community. Although his title is Headmaster, he is the school's inspiration, educational leader, fund raiser and community organizer." (p. 4)

Carpenter, a former middle school counselor and Director of Community Services at Queens College, was the school's headmasters. Hundreds of letters, correspondences, and memos exist in various archival collections. Carpenter received his Ph.D. in 1973, and wrote his dissertation about his experience leading Harlem Prep.

Board of Trustee Members

 Board of Trustee Chairman Judge Robert Mangum (second right) with Gil Noble (second left). Photo courtesy of Hussein Ahdieh.

Board of Trustee Chairman Judge Robert Mangum (second right) with Gil Noble (second left). Photo courtesy of Hussein Ahdieh.

Over Harlem Prep's seven years of independent status, the school's Board played an important part in fundraising. Dr. Stephen Wright served as Harlem Prep Board's Chairman until at least 1970, in which Judge Robert J. Mangum served thereafter. According to hundreds of documents, Mangum -- a prominent Black civil rights leader, formerly in the Johnson administration -- spearheaded fundraising and was a major factor in keeping the school afloat.

Below are various documents detailing the mix of parents, businesspeople, and community members who made up the Board at various times: