Our History

I-House c. 1949

I-House is an independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to foster a community of globally-minded young leaders. It was founded in 1924 by the Rockefeller and Dodge families, who in response to a sense of growing international isolation in the aftermath of World War I, sought to promote cross-cultural understanding.

Our founders understood the value that personal relationships play in achieving these goals, and that meaningful opportunities to share experiences and explore opinions among individuals of diverse backgrounds occur informally, in shared learning, living and dining spaces.

More than just graduate student housing, I-House applies the model of “learning through living” to achieve our vision. Through our programming we provide 700+ postgraduates from 100+ countries an experience designed to broaden residents’ horizons and instill core values of respect, empathy and moral courage.

Our Work in the Community

I-House student-resident tutoring a young learner with the Harlem Education Activities Fund (HEAF)

As a proud and active member of this community for nearly 100 years, I-House has meaningful partnerships with organizations throughout Harlem and Morningside Heights. Each year, our student-residents devote hundreds of volunteer hours, working as tutors for local youth programs, contributing to neighborhood park beautification efforts and taking part in cultural festivals and other events.

As well, throughout the year I-House hosts events for community-based organizations and offers quality programming for student-residents and members of the public in education, culture and the arts.

Read on for more information about our work in the community.

Youth Education & Mentorship

Youth Education & Mentorship

For over 30 years, I-House has partnered with local schools and nonprofit educational organizations to tutor and mentor elementary and high school students.

To date, thousands of students from the community have been tutored by our student-residents, who volunteer hundreds of hours each year to helping young learners.

These valued and longstanding relationships also see area families and students attend cultural and educational events at I-House, and organizations like the Harlem Education Activities Fund (HEAF) routinely use I-House facilities for meetings and convenings.

Flyer for Sakura Park FestIval
Sakura Park Festival 2018

Public Events

Each year, I-House sponsors, supports, and participates in community-enriching public events.

Our annual Sakura Park Festival celebrates the culture of all the people who live and work in the Riverside neighborhood, bringing together area non-profits, community organizations, small businesses, local artists and residents for a day-long celebration.

Other public events sponsored annually by I-House include:

  • All Nations – a spring mixer where I-House student-residents perform music and dance, share cuisine and cultural exhibits from around the world.
  • Fall Fiesta – a “global talent show” and festival of words and the performing arts.

Apollo documentary


In consultation with a diverse array of guest speakers, thought leaders, artists and other collaborators, I-House produces and hosts high quality programmatic events.

Our annual programs are promoted within I-House and to members of the public through the Morningside Area Alliance, a local partnership organization to which I-House belongs.

Some recent programmed events have included:

  • “The Apollo” (Documentary Screening).
  • “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee” (Page Turner Book Series).
  • “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” (Documentary Screening).
  • “A Guide for the Globally Curious” (Page Turner Book Series).
  • “Brave Girl Rising” (Documentary Screening).
  • VIDEO: Generation Jobless (2014) – A two-day conference which brought together leaders in business, government and the NGO sector to discuss solutions for global youth unemployment (watch here).

Local Environmental Stewardship & Support

I-House has a longstanding commitment to environmental stewardship within the community.

Our student-residents volunteer in beautification and clean-up efforts, local plantings and other greening activities both in Sakura Park and Riverside Park.

Local park groups routinely hold events and meetings at I-House.

Each year, I-House also provides direct financial support to Riverside Park and electrical power to Sakura Park free of charge.


I-House regularly provides space to partner organizations from the immediate area and citywide for events, meetings, gatherings and other important functions.

Some of our valued partners include:

  • Seeds of Peace
  • The Riverside Park Conservancy
  • West Harlem Development Corporation
  • West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT)
  • Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation
  • Morningside Area Alliance
  • Harlem Educational Activities Fund
  • The Chinese Association for Science & Technology
  • Black Public Media
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
  • Big Think Group
  • The GroundTruth Project
  • The Chamber Music Center of NY
  • Convent Avenue Baptist Church
  • Women Creating Change
  • Open Space Institute
  • Union Theological Seminary
  • Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Program
  • The New York City Police Department