By Bill Parry
LaGuardia Community College Foundation will receive the largest donation in the school’s history with a $2 million dollar gift from Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs. The global investment banking firm, with revenue in excess of $40 billion, will direct the funds to help students stay in college and graduate.
Goldman Sachs is raising an additional $1 million to help community colleges across the country. These two-years schools serve almost half of America’s 16 million undergraduates.
“This groundbreaking gift to LaGuardia and community colleges nationwide will allow us to help out neediest students pay their tuition and buy books,” LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow said, “making it possible for them to graduate and get higher-paying and more fulfilling jobs. It’s a smart investment that pays huge dividends for our students, our city, and our nation.”
LaGuardia’s partnership with Goldman Sachs began five years ago though 10,000 Small Businesses, a national program designed to help small businesses in the United States create jobs and spur economic growth by providing entrepreneurs with a practical business education and support services. To date, nearly 600 businesses have participated in the program citywide and more than 4,500 businesses have been served nationally.
“Community colleges are the most powerful tool we have in the United States to move people into the middle class,” Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankenfein said. “They provide the opportunity for a higher education to students who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Through our previous partnership with LaGuardia Community College, we’ve seen up close the impact it has on its community and we know that a dollar invested in community colleges goes a long, long way.”
Because 70 percent of LaGuardia’s 50,000 students, many of them immigrants from more than 150 countries, come from households with a family income of less than $25,000, the LaGuardia Community College Foundation was formed in 2003 to address overwhelming student financial needs. Since that time, the foundation has raised over $11 million and has provided thousands of students with scholarships, emergency funds and opportunities for enhanced academic and professional success.
The foundation helps students buy books and MetroCards, according to President Mellow. Community colleges were placed at the center of the Obama administration’s education reform with the America’s College Promise proposal to fund two-years of free community college for students.
“There has never been a time when education matters more to success than it does today,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “And CUNY opens that door to thousands and thousands of New Yorkers from every walk of life, every community and every means. This gift from Goldman Sachs is an investment not only in the future of low-income students and their families, but in the future of our entire city as well.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr