How It Began

The saying goes, that when the students are ready, the teacher appears. This statement is all too true for the genesis of Figure Skating in Harlem! Founded in 1997 as a response to a direct need in the Harlem community, Figure Skating in Harlem established itself as a safe space for young girls to achieve academic excellence and physical well-being through the lens of figure skating. Founder and CEO, Sharon Cohen heard this call to action in the early 90’s when she was invited by community leaders Gene Kitt and Bernice DeAbreu to teach a group of girls on the ice at Upward, Inc., an East Harlem community organization.  Together they began the journey to transform young lives.


“I witnessed first-hand the difference skating made in the lives of these young girls,” Cohen said, “They beamed with pride as they experienced their progress. There was nothing like it!”

After collaborating with Upward, Inc. for more than 6 years, Cohen saw that the demand for a skating enriched education program grew well beyond their walls. With tremendous support from the community and parents, Figure Skating in Harlem was incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(3). What started out with a handful of girls and a dream to figure skate, soon became a leading girls empowerment organization; the first ever to combine rigorous academic support, with leadership development, and access to the artistic discipline of figure skating.

Learn more about our Founder, Sharon Cohen, here!

LIMA, PERU - APRIL 27: Sharon Cohen, Founder and Executive Director, Figure Skating in Harlem delivers a speech during Subsiadiary Session #3B as part of the closing day of the 15th IOC World Conference Sports For All at Sala Huascaran on April 27, 2013 in Lima, Peru. (Photo by Raul Sifuentes/LatinContent/Getty Images)