Mayor Bloomberg Pledges $50 Million to University's Community Colleges

Chancellor Goldstein and Mayor Bloomberg at recent press
conference where the mayor announced a strengthened
commitment to community college education.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg boosted the University's community college system by pledging $50 million over the next four years in an effort to increase the city's skilled labor force and bring more residents into the middle class.

Bloomberg's Gateway to the Middle Class hopes to graduate 120,000 New Yorkers by 2020 who will be trained in growing fields including health care and green technology.

A portion of the money will go to a model community college - the first new two-year school in 37 years - now in the planning stages. It will enroll 5,000 students and be located in Manhattan.

The new college is moving ahead three years after Chancellor Matthew Goldstein approached Bloomberg to support an innovative plan to increase the graduation rate of community college students.

That plan, Accelerated Study in Associate Program (ASAP), is now in place at all of the University's six community colleges and is expected to graduate more than 50 percent of its students within three years. The national rate is 20 to 23 percent after three years. "We are going to exceed well over 50 percent in three years," Goldstein said. "And we are going to take those ideas that we learned through ASAP, which we never could have implemented were it not for this mayor, and hope to extrapolate that experience into a new community college that will get national attention."

The strengthened commitment to community college education is in keeping with the initiative of President Obama, who on July 14 set a goal of graduating 5 million Americans from two-year colleges by 2020.

"Like we do in so many other areas from green jobs to community service, New York City can and will lead the way," said the mayor at a press conference last month. "Sixty percent of CUNY's community college students come from house-holds that earn less than $30,000 a year and 66 percent of them work at least part time while taking classes. We owe it to them to make our community colleges more accessible, accountable and effective at preparing New Yorkers for high demand and higher paying jobs."

Among the highlights of the plan are:

  • Expand the ASAP program, which helps high-risk students complete communit college within three years.
  • Doubling the capacity of community colleges' on-campus child care so students have a safe place to leave their children while attending classes.
  • Help students start their own businesses by providing training in planning, marketing and financial management.
  • Help students save for school through $aveNYC, a consumer-friendly savings account that will offer students matching funds if they maintain their initial deposit for one year and use the money for tuition and expenses.
  • Make capital investments to expand the capacity of the community colleges.