Our History & Mission



To enable individuals and families, regardless of age, to effectively and productively meet the many challenges within today's scope of "problems of living" by providing comprehensive community services in a caring environment.

The Center consists of highly trained, culturally competent health care professionals that include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, alcohol/drug counselors, case managers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and early childhood teachers. We have a multilingual staff fluent in Spanish and French.

The Emma L. Bowen Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community based organization established in 1969 and licensed by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York State Office of Mental Health, New York State Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services, and New York State Department of Education.


emma-bowenEmma L. Bowen, the founding president of the Upper Manhattan Mental Health Center, Inc was a community activist, fighter for justice, founder and president of Black Citizens for a Fair Media (BCFM) and co-founder of the Foundation for Minority Interest In Media, a foundation that has been re-named in her honor.

Mrs. Bowen was always concerned about her community. As a young mother with three daughters and a husband who died at a very early age, she still found time to be actively involved in volunteering her services for the people in need residing in the Upper Manhattan and Harlem communities. She organized the Citizens Action for Neighborhood Organization (CAN-DO) in the 1960s and brought together tenants, landlords and City housing officials to seek ways to improve living conditions.

Emma also supported and partnered with elected officials who she felt would make positive contributions to the cause of equality for minorities. In conjunction with her good friend, the late New York State Senator Jacob Javits, Emma worked to bring an end to the unwritten law of the U.S. Senate that denied Black youth the right to become pages. On April 18,1965, the first African American page began work at the U.S. Senate. New York City Late Mayor John V. Lindsay appointed her to the position of Executive Secretary of the NYC Mental Health, Retardation and Alcoholism Service, a position she held until her retirement in 1985.

In 1969, Emma worked with the late Willian F. Hatcher and members of the community to established the non-profit organization that would be the catalyst for the Upper Manhattan Mental Health Center, Inc., which opened its doors in 1986, and was renamed the Emma L. Bowen Community Service Center, upon Emma’s passing.

Recognizing the influence that images portrayed in mass media can have on a community and individual, Mrs. Bowen helped to form Black Citizens for a Fair Media (BCFM) in 1971. BCFM approached broadcast executives at New York City flagship stations of the major television networks to establish positive agreements to improve programming as well as employment and training opportunities for people of color.

The Foundation for Minority Interest in Media, founded in 1989, and now known as the Emma L. Bowen Foundation is an outgrowth of BCFM. The Foundation provides opportunities for minority youth to learn, be mentored and develop into highly qualified media professionals. The Foundation is supported by many of the same stations Emma Bowen approached years ago as well as many new networks, cable companies, and other media related companies.

During Mrs. Bowen's life time, she was a media spokesperson for her many causes, testified at the FCC on minorities and the media, and received many awards for her significant contributions to community health and serving the needs of the mentally challenged. As a grandmother, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Fordham University, and continued her active participation as an advocate for equality in the media and for mental health services until her death in 1996.

Her work lives on in the thousands of men and women of color who write, produce, direct, report, perform and manage in the television stations and networks of America, as well as the thousands of families, adults, children and senior citizens who have and continue to receive mental health, substance abuse, food, job skills and other supportive services from the Upper Manhattan Mental Health Center, Inc., now known as the Emma L. Bowen Community Service Center.