As countless New Yorkers continue to face financial hardships by way of inflation and the ongoing COVID pandemic, a newly developed initiative by Amazon and the Fund for Public Housing (The Fund) seeks to make the lives of CUNY students who are NYCHA residents a bit simpler.
Created as a nonprofit in 2016, The Fund exists solely to support programs for residents of NYCHA.
The CUNY Scholars program, which is part of The Fund and invests in leadership development, workforce skills and healthy lifestyles for CUNY students who are NYCHA residents.
Over the course of six years, there have been about 257 total CUNY Scholars who have taken part in the program, receiving $1,000 scholarships each.
As part of the new partnership, a grant from Amazon will support the expansion of the NYCHA CUNY Scholars program by doubling the number of new scholars and fellows to 80 over two years and providing individualized mentoring, career awareness and coaching from a new NYCHA mentoring and internship consultant.
The program will be administered by NYCHA’s Office of Resident Economic Empowerment and Sustainability (REES) Department of Adult Education and Training.
The NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholars are recruited via digital outreach by NYCHA and CUNY, making students aware of their eligibility for the program.
Each CUNY Scholar must have at least a 3.0 GPA and 30 credits, demonstrating their commitment to a college education.
“This particular program, for which we are very grateful for, Amazon would support and expand the CUNY Scholars program. What’s different about it is it will create a program for mentorship and career support, as well as a fellows program which provides funding to pay a stipend for 10 of those students over two years to intern either at The Fund or REES,” Claire McLeveighn, deputy director of the Fund for Public Housing, said.
“Amazon has also very generously agreed to make available some of its employees to be part of the mentoring portion, and we’re excited about that because Amazon does everything,” she said. “Whether you’re a student interested in marketing, technology or logistics, the universe is open to learning about all kinds of career possibilities with an organization like Amazon.”
McLeveighn said that Amazon has previously donated several hundred HD Fire tablets to The Fund during the pandemic when residents in workforce development training were forced to work remotely, lacking access to electronic devices.
Additionally, Amazon provided resources to offer meals to residents when many were suffering from the effects of food insecurity.
“We love the idea of the program because our support helps to double the number of scholarships given annually, and actually provides a career counselor to help students through their career journey,” Carley Graham Garcia, head of community affairs for Amazon New York, said.
“Amazon recognizes that CUNY is an economic driver, not only for New Yorkers, but for the city. This made a lot of sense for us because it supported not only lower income New Yorkers living in public housing but also pathways to and through CUNY to great jobs,” she said. “Every student needs help with college tuition. Even CUNY, as affordable as it is, can be a barrier for New Yorkers. We wanted to figure out how to help add to the scholarship funds so that students living in public housing would have a chance to apply for scholarships that would help their education through the CUNY system.”
The 2022 NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship will launch on May 16 and closes on July 13.
NYCHA REES will host information sessions to provide guidance to potential applicants and answer questions related to the scholarship. Scholarship inquiries can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org.