By Madina Toure
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) presented the Poppenhusen Institute with a $100,000 grant from the recently adopted state budget.
He obtained the funds to enable the institute, located at 114-04 14th Road in College Point, to cover operating costs for the coming year. The funding is part of more than $1.3 million Avella allocated from this year’s budget for programs and organizations in his district and throughout Queens.
Avella, who already funded the upcoming elevator installation back when he was on the City Council, said the institute has been a “tremendous cultural avenue” for people in College Point and Queens in general.
“I’m thrilled that I was able to get money from the state budget to help them operate for at least a couple of years,” he said.
The institute was built in 1868 with funds donated by Conrad Poppenhusen, the benefactor of College Point. In 1870, the first free kindergarten in the United States started at the institute, where it was housed. The institute also housed the Justice of the Peace, the first home of the College Point Savings Bank and the first library in the area. It now serves as a community center.
Susan Brustmann, the institute’s executive director, commended Avella for his support of the institute since his time on the City Council.
“We’re extremely grateful to our senator for getting these funds at a time when it is very difficult to get state funding for nonprofits,” Brustmann said.
But she said the fight is not over, noting that it is unlikely that the institute will see the funds for anywhere from nine to 12 months.
It costs roughly $250,000 a year to run the institute, Brustmann said.
“We ask our community to please continue to support us,” she said. “If the senator had not obtained these funds for us, it’s not clear what our future would have held.”
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour