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Police Athletic League of New York City

The Police Athletic League, Inc. (PAL) is an independent, non-profit youth development agency in New York City. PAL is funded by a combination of private donations and public funding sources and is a designated charity of the New York Police Department. Robert M. Morgenthau, retired District Attorney of New York County, has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors since 1963.[1] PAL is open to all New York City children.

Police Athletic League, Inc.
FocusYouth development for inner-city children and teenagers
Area served
Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island
Key people
Frederick J. Watts, Executive Director



The historical relationship between PAL and the NYPD is the result of a more than a century-old working relationship between law enforcement officials and civilian leaders. PAL was founded in 1914 by Police Commissioner Arthur Woods who began Play Streets and Police Captain John Sweeney who founded the Junior Police Clubs in New York City's Lower East Side. The two programs were eventually combined to become the Police Athletic League of New York City. From 1914 to 1959, PAL was led by high-ranking NYPD officials. In the fifty years since 1960, PAL has been managed by civilian Executive Directors, who have continued the tradition of cops helping kids helping communities.

Programs and servicesEdit

PAL offers a variety of services to city kids confronted by high risk factors in New York City's most challenging neighborhoods. Key programs include Head Start, After-School, Play Streets, Summer Day Camps, Truancy Prevention, Youthlink (family court probation supervision), Cops and Kids Sports, Summer Youth Employment, and Junior Police, among others.[2]

Math and spelling competitions at the annual Tournament of Champions

Kids in grades K to 8 benefit from a three-pronged after-school curriculum—PAL SMARTS, PAL ARTS and PAL FIT—that reinforces daily school lessons and academic achievement.[3][4]

PAL works with NYPD to strategically locate Play Street sites on city streets, parks and schoolyards. Play Streets offer structured and adult-supervised activities like stickball, basketball, double Dutch, dance, board games and art projects.[5][6][7] Play Streets are free of charge weekdays for seven weeks each summer.

Summer Day Camps help prevent summer learning loss with developmental activities for children grades K to 8. Offerings include literacy activities, arts projects, community service, sports and recreation and a citywide Cultural Day event.

PAL provides organized co-ed sports leagues for 14,000 NYC kids. Year-round sports leagues include basketball, flag football, baseball, volleyball and softball. These leagues demand physical activity, teamwork and good sportsmanship from young people.

Young girl hula hoops at a Play Streets

Over 825 NYPD officers and 2,500 PAL kids play on Cops & Kids sports teams. This program fosters mutual respect between cops and kids, and gives kids and their families a new perspective on the law.[8]

PAL operates Mobile Teen Centers in troubled neighborhoods that have requested PAL's presence. PAL also provides Evening Teen programs at its regular full-time centers. With adult supervision, teenagers find "safe havens" during the evening hours with sports, recreation, life skills rap sessions, and crime prevention workshops.

PAL operates two workforce development programs—Summer Youth Employment and In-School Training & Employment Program. Teenagers learn work readiness and leadership skills while receiving practical work experience through volunteer internships and summer jobs.

PAL addresses New York City's high school dropout rate, teenage crime and juvenile recidivism with a Juvenile Justice and Re-Entry Services Program. Some 6,500 teenagers, in trouble with the law from an early age, have been helped.

PAL Head Start programs serve 470 children, ages 3–5, with education, social services, health, mental health, nutrition and parental involvement. PAL Daycare serves another 390 children, ages 2 – 5. All programs are staffed with Early Education professionals who provide the best early learning experiences for the children coupled with dance and music programs. PAL also provides these youngsters with nutritious and child friendly meals.

Relationship with NYPDEdit

Police Athletic League of New York City in Longwood, Bronx

PAL works with the NYPD to strategically identify neighborhoods of need and then PAL designs programs that will have the greatest impact on the safety and development of kids.[9] Police Commissioner William J. Bratton serves as Honorary President of the Board of Directors and is personally involved in PAL special events. Police Officers from NYPD Community Affairs work in tandem with PAL staff to develop and oversee community and recreational events and sports leagues. Junior Police Clubs are sponsored by NYPD officers who attend club meetings and lead community outings. These Clubs are a way for kids to learn volunteer community service, civic engagement and good citizenship.[10]


PAL has a strong research and evaluation initiative anchored by PALTRAX Software and PALSTAT that conducts biannual evaluations of programs and centers. This information is used to identify assets and risks and gauge program effectiveness.[11]

Evaluation tells PAL what's actually happening to kids. For example, 100% of high school seniors enrolled in In-School Training and Employment Program graduated on time and 90% went on to enroll in college. For younger kids in PAL SMARTS classes, 97% who started with the real fear of being sent back a grade were, instead, promoted to the next grade.[12]


  1. ^ "Morgenthau Heads for Door, Legacy Assured," New York Times, February 28, 2009; "Robert M. Morgenthau Talks About 40 Years with PAL," Interview in The PALetter, March, 2004.
  2. ^ "PAL Facts," "Field Operations," "Juvenile Justice," "PAL Play Streets," "Evening Teen Centers," "Education," "PAL Smarts," "PAL Junior Police," "PAL Sports Leagues," "Youth Employment," "Summer Day Camp," "Cops and Kids" – All 2009 one-page fact sheets documenting PAL programs, written, produced and updated by the PAL Department of Programs and Citywide Operations.
  3. ^ "Home work Blues? Help Is At Hand with Afterschool at PAL," New York Daily News, September 29, 2008
  4. ^ "Red Hook Gets Smart with PAL," Courier Life, December 7, 2007, page 4
  5. ^ "Asphalt Camps: PAL's Answer to Mean Streets," New York Times, July 10, 1988
  6. ^ "Police Athletic League Keeping Kids Safe with Play Streets," New York Daily News, June 30, 2008
  7. ^ "Summer in the City," The Chronicle of Philanthropy, July 26, 2007
  8. ^ "These Kids' Finest PALs," New York Daily News, May 27, 2007, Page 33
  9. ^ "PAL's Partnership with NYPD: Find a Cop, Find a PAL," Statement by the Executive Director of PAL, (June 12, 2008)
  10. ^ "Brooklyn Youngsters Enjoy Police Athletic League's Junior Police Jamboree," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 1, 2010.
  11. ^ "PAL Embraces Evaluation with Recent Initiatives," Statement by the PAL Grants, Research & Evaluation Unit, (October 2009)
  12. ^ "PAL In-STEP" 2009 Fact Sheet

External linksEdit