Courtesy of Hunters Point Parks Conservancy
Long Island City is the latest neighborhood in western Queens to do community fundraising for young students' college funds.

Long Island City residents and businesses raised nearly $60,000 that will go towards neighborhood students’ NYC Scholarship Accounts for college and career training.

The non-profit NYC Kids RISE launched the campaign and as a result of the community effort, 942 kindergarten, first-grade, and second-grade students from five LIC schools — PS 76, PS 111, PS 112, Growing Up Green Charter School and VOICE Charter School — will each receive and additional $60 dollars in their NYC Scholarship Accounts, which are universal 529 plan college savings accounts automatically opened for every student at a participating participating school starting in kindergarten.

The five schools were selected based on the economic need of their student body. Research shows that a child with a college savings account of just $1-$500 is three times more likely to go to college and more than four times more likely to graduate than a child without an account.

“When communities come together for students early on, we can make a real impact,” NYC Kids RISE Executive Director Debra-Ellen Glickstein said. “The Long Island City community has not only raised money that will benefit local students, but has also demonstrated to students and our neighborhood families that the entire community is behind them. Through this and other Community Scholarships across District 30, communities are investing in their future.”

Among the local businesses that contributed to the campaign include Kaufman Astoria Studios, Manducatis Rustica, Matted LIC Gallery, Boyce Technologies, Modern Spaces and Floresta. Community organizations such as Gantry Parent Association, Mathis Pfohl Foundation and Jacob Riis Settlement were among the contributors.

“As a life-long Long Island City resident, I am thrilled to see this entire community come together to support our kids’ futures,” Queensbridge Houses Tenant Association President April Simpson said. “By providing real funding for our children’s future and raising expectations that they not only complete high school, but go on to college, we are uplifting a whole generation of Long Island City students.”

Bishop Mitchell Taylor, the Senior Pastor of Center of Hope International and co-founder of Urban Upbound — an organization that is dedicated to breaking cycles of poverty in New York City public housing and other low-income neighborhoods — was equally inspired by the NYC Kids RISE campaign.

“Throughout my life working day-in and day-out here with the people of Long Island City, I have been motivated by the singular desire to provide our young people with the opportunities and support to fulfill their potential,” Taylor said. “All too often, I am confronted with deeply-rooted disparities in income and opportunity that limit our residents. Where you are born should not dictate what you do or how much money you make. With this campaign, and other Community Scholarships, we are working to close the achievement gap in our communities by providing early college savings that will impact children’s future success.”

Young students at VOICE Charter School are among the recipients of a community fundraiser to add to their college savings accounts. (Courtesy VOICE Charter School)

NYC Kids RISE manages the Save for College Program in partnership with the city and its Department of Education, with founding support from the Gray Foundation. Each NYC Scholarship Account was opened with a $100 seed investment from NYC Kids RISE, with additional opportunities for matching funds and contributions from organizations, businesses, and community members.

“The power of expectations-setting when it comes to students’ success cannot be underestimated,” VOICE Charter School Founder and Principal Franklin Headley said. “Having the community join together to contribute to our students’ college savings accounts lets them know that they have people all around them from their teachers to their parents to their neighborhood, who are actively supporting their dreams.”

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