The National Urban League was founded in New York City on September 9, 1910 by Ruth Standish Baldwin and Dr. George Edmund Haynes. Ruth Baldwin inherited a fortune from her husband who was a railroad magnate. Edmund Haynes was a social worker who received a doctorate degree from Columbia University.
The organization was funded to help Afro-American migrants from the South, train them and facilitate employment opportunities, housing, recreation and health services. Today its objective is to empower historically underserved urban communities and elevate their standard of living.
In 1961 Whitney Young was elected executive director and under his leadership the National League underwent important changes. They raised funds from companies in the private sector with whom they had forged important relationships over the years and expanded its membership base. The National League became a partner along with other civil rights organizations in the national civil rights movement. In 1963 the National League along with SCLC, CORE, NAACP and SNCC sponsored the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
During the 1960s and 1970s the National League expanded its social service efforts by helping the federal government establish health, housing, education and minority business development programs in urban communities. Today the National Urban League has 88 affiliates serving 300 communities in 36 states.