Board Chairman Adams and CUNY Chancellor Matos Rodríguez launch program to re-engage thousands of former working-age students toward earning-boosting degrees

Proposed by the President and funded in the city budget through Council advocacy, the $4.4 million CUNY Reconnect program aims to begin by bringing back 10,000 working-age students who left CUNY without a degree.

New York, NY – The City University of New York is launching an initiative this fall semester to re-enroll thousands of New Yorkers, who earned college credit but left school before earning a degree. The $4.4 million CUNY reconnect The pilot program was funded in the city’s fiscal year 2023 budget at the request of the New York City Council and will seek to help these alumni earn degrees or other credentials that enhance their economic mobility and advance the city’s post-pandemic recovery. The program was envisioned by research from the Center for an Urban Future and first proposed by President Adams at the Association for a Better New York’s Power Breakfast and in her State of the City address.

CUNY Reconnect plans to begin enrolling 10,000 returning students, beginning this fall semester. The CUNY estimates that there are approximately 700,000 New Yorkers of working age, who have earned credits and could return to complete their education or obtain certificates that would help them improve their careers. This includes students who left college during the pandemic, as well as those who withdrew years or even decades ago. The initiative will also carry out outreach activities with students who graduated from high school during the pandemic and were unable to attend university due to personal circumstances.

“Expanding opportunity for New York workers is critical to supporting our communities and advancing our local economy,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “CUNY Reconnect, which I highlighted in my State of the City 2022 address, is an innovative initiative that can help working-age New Yorkers increase their earning potential by returning to earn a degree. CUNY Reconnect is designed to create economic opportunity for New Yorkers, especially Black and Latina women and other women of color who disproportionately include students with college credit but without a degree. The Council championed this $4.4 million pilot initiative in the city budget that will serve thousands of returning students this fall and hopefully tens of thousands more in future expansions. I thank CUNY Chancellor Matos Rodríguez for his partnership, the Center for an Urban Future for his important work in moving this idea forward, and my colleagues on the Board for their commitment to supporting advancement opportunities for New- Yorkers.

“We know how difficult it is to restart a college education. By recruiting former students and facilitating their return to school, CUNY Reconnect will help working adults get the education they need for better-paying jobs, fueling the city’s post-pandemic economic recovery. “, said Chancellor Felix V. Matos Rodriguez. “Returning to college after a significant break can be daunting, but by creating a welcoming and personalized readmission process, we can ease this transition for thousands of people who will benefit and put them on the path to opportunities that will change their life. We thank President Adams and the City Council for their partnership in creating and funding a bold initiative that can help so many New Yorkers as well as the city itself.

“As the nation’s largest public urban university, CUNY has a long track record of stepping stone to class mobility for New Yorkers,” said Board Member Justin Brannan, Chair of the Board’s Finance Committee. “The institution has been nothing short of a resounding success for our city. I can’t think of a better way to double down on CUNY than to proactively reach out to students who weren’t able to complete their degrees for one reason or another and help them cross the finish line. I was proud to prioritize CUNY Reconnect in budget negotiations because funding this initiative means promising that your chance to improve your life with a CUNY degree never expires. It’s a down payment on accessible higher education, upward economic mobility, and a more prosperous future for NYC.

“As chair of the New York City Council’s Higher Education Committee, I’m proud of the $4.4 million for CUNY Reconnect that the City Council has secured that will impact thousands of new adults. Yorkers of working age by allowing them to complete their degrees”, said Eric Dinowitz, Board Member and Chair of the Board’s Committee on Higher Education. “The lasting impacts of education will change the lives of so many, providing opportunities for career development, social mobility and greater economic security. Many working adults who have had to sacrifice their academic goals will now have the opportunity to continue their education. I would like to thank President Adrienne Adams and my colleagues on Council, particularly the Higher Education Committee, who made this program a reality. I am thrilled that so many New Yorkers can resume their studies by returning to the classroom. »

Specialized support

To launch the initiative, CUNY Reconnect identified more than 100,000 students who left CUNY colleges without graduating in the past five years. The program deploys a team of CUNY Reconnect “Navigators” to reach out to these alumni, encourage them to return to their studies, and provide personalized, practical guidance to enroll in the degree or certificate program that is best for them. . The initiative will expand its reach to other prospective student populations in the fall.

The program will provide returning students with credit for their prior learning (which allows students to receive credit for their previous studies, as well as for their work experience and professional qualifications outside the classroom), as well as the flexibility of online programs and specialized supports, including logistical advice , financial and academic, as well as child care.

CUNY Reconnect navigators will help prospective students apply for New York State’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), which for the first time has been expanded by Governor Hochul to include tens of thousands of students attending part-time, and to identify and apply for other applicable scholarships and stipends.

Once enrolled in one of CUNY’s two- or four-year colleges, students will continue to receive guidance and support, including access to work experiences in high-demand fields such as health care and technology.

Never too late

CUNY Reconnect is designed to reach New Yorkers like Tom Reingold, who left Hunter College in 1987 without graduating and returned 32 years later after a long but ultimately dissatisfying career as a computer programmer and administrator. “I knew I needed some kind of change, and my wife and friends reminded me that I had always wanted to be a teacher,” Reingold said. “To do this I needed a degree and I had heard that at CUNY they let you pick up where you left off unlike other places. It turned out to be true , and that was a big deal for me, I was allowed to complete the requirements that were in place when I was in school, with only one or two new computer requirements that I thought were quite reasonable.

Reingold returned to Hunter as a part-time student in the fall of 2019, and this spring he graduated with a bachelor’s degree and took a big step toward his new career as a teacher. This fall, he will be a full-time teacher at a New York public school.

Neshaly Perez, who left Bronx Community College at the height of the pandemic and had no plans to return, returned to school this semester after recently receiving an email from a CUNY Reconnect browser. Perez only has five courses to complete before she can graduate and was interviewed by the Daily News.

The City Council partnership was inspired by a report released in January by the Center for an Urban Future, which highlighted a similar program in Tennessee that could be modeled to reach hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers of age. to work. Her research pointed out that women of color, especially black and Latina women, made up a disproportionate number of this former student population, making such a program a vehicle for advancing economic equity in the city. The report says thousands of New Yorkers have enough credits to earn a degree and urges the city to make a concerted effort to bring these working adults back to college and provide them with the full support and tools. they need to graduate. or other identifying information.

“This is such an important step in creating a fairer economy in New York City,” said Jonathan Bowles, Executive Director, Center for an Urban Future. “Helping adults who have college credit but no degree return to CUNY and earn a degree will put thousands of mostly low-income New Yorkers on the path to better jobs. and a more financially secure life. We commend President Adams for making this possible.

The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university, a transformative engine of social mobility that is an essential part of New York life. Founded in 1847 as the nation’s first free public institution of higher education, CUNY today has seven community colleges, 11 graduate colleges, and seven graduate or vocational institutions spread across New York’s five boroughs, serving more than 243,000 undergraduate and graduate students and awarding 55,000 degrees each. year. CUNY’s blend of quality and affordability propels nearly six times as many low-income students into the middle class and beyond than all Ivy League colleges combined. More than 80% of the University’s graduates stay in New York, contributing to all aspects of the city’s economic, civic, and cultural life and diversifying the city’s workforce across all sectors. CUNY graduates and faculty have received many prestigious honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 26 MacArthur “Genius” grants. The University’s historic mission continues to this day: to provide a first-rate public education to all students, regardless of means or background.


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