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Courtesy of LaGuardia Community College
LaGuardia Community College faculty leading a diversity conference session.

LaGuardia Community College is one of four community colleges that will receive support from a $3.15 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The funding will expand the CUNY Humanities Alliance, a program designed to engage doctoral students in supporting humanities education at community colleges, and address the critical question of how best to prepare graduate students for careers as faculty members and leaders in community colleges and in higher education as a whole.

The CUNY Humanities Alliance began in 2015 as a partnership betweens The Graduate Center, CUNY and LaGuardia Community College. This new grant will allow expansion to three additional community colleges: Borough of Manhattan Community College, Guttman Community College and Hostos Community College.

The goals of the expanded CUNY Humanities Alliance support a vision of higher education that is oriented toward social justice. The aim is to enable graduate students to learn about the most successful methods for engaging in humanities education in community colleges with diverse student populations while simultaneously broadening access to the humanities of those undergraduates.

“High-quality teaching that reaches a diverse student population is absolutely essential to our success. Therefore, we’re pleased to be continuing our collaboration with The Graduate Center to ensure that tomorrow’s college faculty are well-prepared to be both effective in their classrooms and leaders on their campuses,” LaGuardia Community College Interim President Paul Arcario said. “We greatly appreciate the innovative thinking of the Mellon Foundation and their long-term commitment to improving teaching and expanding access to the essential learning that a humanities education provides.”

Additionally, LaGuardia and Commonpoint Queens have been jointly awarded $495,000 from The Kresge Foundation to facilitate a partnership that will connect low-income families with critical human services and educational pathways to advance their social and economic mobility. LaGuardia and Commonpoint will utilize the three-year grant to train English language learners and cultivate a culturally competent workforce fully equipped to serve the diverse patient populations of the New York metropolitan area as community health workers.

“Having healthcare professionals that reflect the community they serve is vital to ensure that an individual’s health information is accurately and efficiently relayed, which can involve both linguistic and cultural knowledge,” Arcario said. “Not only does this program benefit patients, it also helps recent immigrants and other English language learners find well-paying jobs, making it a win-win for all, and a model for other colleges and community organizations. We’re proud to partner with Commonpoint Queens to make this program available for some of the most vulnerable populations in Queens, and are grateful for the Kresge Foundation’s generous support that is making this possible.”

Commonpoint Queens is a human services organization that helps individuals and families of diverse backgrounds find support, connections and opportunities during all stages of their lives. Guided by the Jewish values of service and justice for six decades, the agency has a range of programs at 52 sites across Queens, assisting 50,000 people each year.

“It is our mission to improve the well-being of individuals, families and communities, and this initiative will help us provide critical resources to traditionally underserved populations in our borough,” Commonpoint Queens CEO Danielle Ellman said. “As a human services agency we feel strongly that it is our responsibility to ensure that all community members have access to meaningful employment opportunities. This funding will enable more than 3200 immigrants with the language and vocational skills needed to achieve their aspirations and succeed in the labor market.”

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