Born into wealth and privilege in 1870’s New York, Edwin Gould recognized early on the power his position in society afforded him to assist the needy. History relates that he may have had a fractured relationship with his own father rooted in his decision to leave Columbia University after only three years of studies. Rather than entering the family business, he struck out on his own and inside of six months was worth over a million dollars. Having proven himself, he was welcomed into the family’s railroad and banking interests. By the age of 27, with an inheritance from his father’s estate and his own fortune, Edwin was worth twenty million dollars.
Edwin was fond of his mother-in-law, Hester Shrady. Inspired by her work with the Messiah Home for children, Edwin and his wife Sarah began making contributions of money, food and clothing to charitable organizations. Sheltering Arms Children’s Services was one of the first children’s homes to benefit from their involvement. Edwin visited the home regularly and was known to the children and staff as a friend and benefactor who provided gifts such as tickets to the circus and ice cream during the hot summer months.
While his involvement with Sheltering Arms was important to him, it was not until tragedy struck his life that he became so entirely devoted to helping children. His son, Edwin, Jr. was accidentally shot while on a camping trip. At the funeral services, a large basket of roses arrived from the children of Sheltering Arms, one rose from each child at the home. This tender memorial so moved the bereaved father that he determined to devote his fortune and his time in their behalf.
The Lakeside School was the first program under Edwin Gould’s direct administration. He also supported the Kingsland School for Boys, which was located in the Bronx, NY. Later he built the Clearing Bureau near Pelham Parkway in the Bronx to provide for Protestant children a period of quarantine, which was necessary at that time, before placement in long-term care. In1923, through a special act of the New York Legislature, Edwin Gould established the Edwin Gould Foundation for Children to ensure that these services to children would not cease with his death.
In 1939, six years after Edwin Gould’s death, the Edwin Gould New York Fund was established as a separate corporation to operate the childcare programs of the Edwin Gould Foundation for Children. Initially limited to Foster Boarding Homes, programming expanded in 1957 to include a limited adoption service.
In August 2018, Rising Ground and Edwin Gould Services for Children and Families formally joined together. Through this partnership, Edwin Gould became a subsidiary of Rising Ground with Rising Ground assuming all administrative functions for the two organizations. Both our organizations now operate under one uniform set of policies and practices, guided by the same mission, values, expectations, and vision, as we continue to expand services to more New Yorkers facing adversity.
Thus began a new day for our two organizations’ long dedication to helping New York’s children, adults, and families to move forward and upward in their lives. The consolidation strengthens and broadens the supports we provide to more than 25,000 children, adults, and family members throughout the five boroughs of New York City, as well as Westchester County. As one organization, Rising Ground now has expanded services in our critical work in the areas of child welfare, services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), and care management. The STEPS to End Family Violence program continues to support those impacted by intimate partner violence, as well as New York City youth through advocacy and leadership training. Intimate partner violence often impacts the families and children supported by Rising Ground across its many programs, meaning the expertise developed through decades of work in this area will have a wider reach benefitting the Rising Ground community.
The decision to bring Rising Ground and Edwin Gould together builds upon a strong historical connection between the organizations. Edwin Gould’s nieces and nephews were adopted through Rising Ground (then named Leake &Watts) in the early 20th century. He provided significant personal financial support to Rising Ground, which led to the construction of buildings on our campus that stand to this day, as well as an enduring endowment fund. Two years ago, Rising Ground assumed operation of Edwin Gould’s day habilitation program for adults with IDD.
As Rising Ground and Edwin Gould move forward together, we believe that through this affiliation we are advancing our work and creating a stronger, more sustainable long-term structure that gives us the depth, expertise, and adaptability that will benefit the people and communities we support.