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LaGuardia Community College raises record $15 million to support students impacted by COVID

LaGuardia Community College
LaGuardia Community College raises a record $15 million to support students that were impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of LaGuardia Community College)

LaGuardia Community College has raised a record $15 million to assist students whose educational process was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The college foundation surpassed its $10 million goal for the Tomorrow Campaign in late March, unlocking a $5 million gift from an anonymous donor and setting a fundraising record for the Long Island City institution.

LaGuardia will deploy the funding to help students stay in school and complete their degrees. Many LaGuardia students come from low-income, immigrant families in Queens that were particularly hard hit during the pandemic. Proceeds from the campaign will benefit as many as 20,000 degree-seeking and workforce-training students through scholarships, paid internships, emergency aid and other awards.

“With $15 million in new resources, LaGuardia Community College can help lead an equitable economic recovery in Queens,” LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams said. “For students whose college dreams were derailed by the pandemic, LaGuardia is the place to get back on track.”

When Adams announced the launch of the Tomorrow Campaign in October, he said the $15 million goal was “aiming high” but it was an urgent need to help New Yorkers get back on their feet by creating a new talent pool for New York City employers.

“We launched this campaign to help our students reap the benefits of earning a college degree or professional certificate, which is more important than ever during these difficult times,” said LaGuardia Community College Foundation Chair Suzie Scanlon Rabinowitz, Esq.

Students who receive aid from the LaGuardia Community College Foundation are three times more likely to graduate. The Foundation supports students regardless of immigration status, full-time or part-time enrollment, or if they’re in a degree or non-degree program. This broad accessibility bridges gaps in federal and state financial aid programs.

“After I was laid off from my waitressing job during the pandemic, I wanted to get trained as an EMT but didn’t know how I could afford tuition,” said Jennifer Rufrano, a Foundation scholarship recipient now working as an EMT. “Thankfully, I qualified for a scholarship that covered 80% of my tuition for LaGuardia’s four-month EMT training program.”

Many Tomorrow Campaign supporters include people who see their personal histories reflected in LaGuardia students, a majority of whom are low-income, first in their family to go to college, or recent immigrants. In addition to financial support, a good number give their time as well, meeting with students to provide career advice or motivation.

“I was raised by immigrant parents in Queens and saw first-hand what resiliency means,” said Dipak Patel, founder and CEO of Alight Capital Management LP. “My family and I have been fortunate to spend time with LaGuardia students and we’ve been impressed by their grit and intellectual curiosity. It’s clear that President Adams and the LaGuardia team are doing everything they can to set up their students for success. We are very proud to support LaGuardia students through the Tomorrow Campaign.”

Founded in 2003, more than 25,000 students to date have received support from the foundation in the form of scholarships, gap grants, emergency funds, technology resources and paid internships.

“I’ve watched LaGuardia students struggle and persevere,” LaGuardia Community College Foundation Board member Priscilla Alexander said. “I’m so happy to be able to support them and help them stay in school.”

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