Greyston's history is rich and comes from a place of true caring and acceptance.

Greyston was co-founded by Bernie Glassman and his wife, Sandra Jishu Holmes.

In 1982, Bernie, a Brooklyn-born Zen Buddhism teacher, was living with his students in a home called Greyston Mansion located north of Manhattan. Along with the Zen Community of New York (ZCNY), Bernie opened a small bakery café nearby as a way to employ the students.

The café successfully supported the students, but Bernie wanted to do more. His Buddhist beliefs drew him to community development and work with the homeless and unemployed. His opportunity came when the mayor of Yonkers invited the ZCNY to move the business to his city. At the time, Yonkers had the highest per capita homeless population in the country. The ZCNY sold Greyston Mansion, closed the café, and moved into one of Yonkers’ most troubled neighborhoods. There, an abandoned lasagna factory became home to Greyston Bakery.

None of those committed to this new operation were bakers or businesspeople. Starting capital was limited. A similar Buddhist-run bakery in San Francisco provided inspiration and training for the ZCNY workers at Greyston. After several years, the community began hiring people from the neighborhood. Many of these individuals had unstable lives, lacked education, or had spent time in prison.

Greyston Social Enterprise greyston bakery

It quickly became obvious that that employment was just one of the many unmet needs of the neighborhood. Glassman and his late wife, Sandra (also a Zen teacher) envisioned a nonprofit community development organization that would offer housing, jobs, social services, child care, and HIV-related health care. This was the beginning of Greyston’s community-based programming.

In the mid-1990s, Bernie left Yonkers to pursue other endeavors, but with the solid foundation he, Sandra, and others in the ZCNY community built, Greyston continues to thrive today.

Our Milestones

  1. 1982

    Greyston Bakery is founded

  2. 1987

    Partners with Ben & Jerry’s to create its Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream

  3. 1992

    Launch of Greyston Foundation to strengthen the governance of its unique hybrid organization

  4. 2004

    Greyston Bakery opens a new LEED® Certified 21,000 square foot bakery on the Yonkers waterfront

  5. 2008

    Workforce Development Program launches to serve hard-to-employ workers

  6. 2015

    Greyston Bakery ranked in the top 10% of all B Corporations in the world

  7. 2016

    Bakery invited to the White House for launch of Fair Chance Business Pledge

  8. 2017

    Greyston celebrates 35 years of innovation and social inclusion

  9. 2018

    The Center for Open Hiring at Greyston launches