CUNY community college consortium forms to help the unemployed and underemployed

Cybur is a proud partner with CUNY on this initiative.

A nearly $5 million U.S. Department of Labor grant, just awarded to a consortium of New York City community colleges and the City University of New York (CUNY), will provide Technology, Health Care, and Education upskilling programs to people in underemployed industries and communities across New York City, especially those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Led by Queensborough Community College, the grant enables CUNY, the Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College, Hostos Community College, LaGuardia Community College and Kingsborough Community College, to refine and enhance local workforce development programs.

“CUNY’s community colleges are uniquely positioned to help lead our city and region’s economic recovery from the pandemic,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “This grant will bolster the University’s efforts to revitalize and rebuild our communities. We are grateful to the U.S. Department of Labor for this groundbreaking support for CUNY and our collaborating partners in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.”

The six-college consortium will work closely with the New York City Workforce Development Board and the statewide Future Skills Exchange Workforce Development Institute. Together, they will accelerate education and training programs in partnership with Amazon, Google, and nine other companies and non-profit organizations.

The grant, Co-Designing an Integrated Accelerated Pathways Model with Employers and the Workforce Development System: Driving System Changes through the CUNY Community Colleges Consortium, is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor through its Strengthening Community College Training Grants program.

“Together, we are going to draw on the collective strength of CUNY’s community colleges, collaborate with employers, and contribute to a robust public workforce development system to meet the demand for skilled labor in the boroughs and throughout the city,” said Queensborough Community College President, Dr. Christine Mangino.

Students’ education and training will blend with career development, according to Dr. Hui-Yin Hsu, Dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Queensborough Community College.

“Through the program, students will access multiple integrated pathways, earn stackable micro-credentials and benefit from multiple entries and exits, so that their upskilling training is seamlessly woven into their careers,” explained Dr. Hsu.

An interactive, easy-to-use platform developed by the Workforce Development Institute, The Future Skills Exchange, will connect New Yorkers seeking courses, apprenticeships, credentials and assessments directly to the education and training providers.

“We congratulate the CUNY Community Colleges Consortium on their successful DOL grant and look forward to working collaboratively with them to enhance programs and career opportunities in New York City,” said Ed Murphy, Executive Director, Workforce Development Institute.

Students will earn industry-recognized qualifications such as Amazon Web Services Solutions Architect Associate/Cloud Practitioner, Google IT Support Professional Certificate as well as other technology certifications, Emergency Medical Technician Certification, Certified Health Worker, Certified Medical Assistant, and Child Development Associate/Certified Teaching Assistant.

Each community college will work with industry, employers, and government on multiple projects to increase services to their communities. They will have a strong focus on courses and programs that ensure students’ success, especially among adult learners needing family-sustaining employment.

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) President, Anthony E. Munroe, said the grant would broaden opportunities for BMCC students who were committed to serving their communities as emergency services providers.

“We will expand an earlier pilot program in which high school students were trained to become Emergency Medical Service workers while earning credits towards an associate degree in Paramedics at BMCC. We look forward to continuing this important work—advancing our students’ career goals, academic journey and socioeconomic mobility,” President Munroe said.

The grant validates the critical role CUNY community colleges play in New York City, according to Hostos Community College Interim President Daisy Cocco De Filippis.

“I am beyond proud for Hostos and our sister colleges for their hard work. This grant is full of promise and I know we will deliver and make CUNY proud,” President Cocco De Filippis said.

“At Hostos we are eager to start to educate and equip talent seeking jobs and increase our City’s workforce at a time when we need each other the most,” added Hostos’ Executive Director of Workforce Development Evelyn Fernández-Ketcham.

Karla Renee Williams, Interim Dean of Workforce Development at Bronx Community College, explained that its portion of the grant would support early childhood education training and certification from the Child Development Association (CDA) in partnership with the Council for Professional Recognition and with the BCC Education & Academic Literacy department.

“COVID and the associated ‘work/learn from home’ environment has highlighted the importance of having skilled and nimble educators for all of our children. With this grant, we continue to be a leader in training new generations of educators and leaders in early child care,” said Dean Williams.

LaGuardia Community College (LaGuardia), in Long Island City, Queens, will provide accelerated education in areas including healthcare, cybersecurity, data analytics and data science.

“Given the financial crisis and record unemployment caused by Covid-19 within Queens and beyond, this work is vital to support our community’s recovery from the pandemic,” said LaGuardia President Kenneth Adams.

“This funding from the U.S. Department of Labor will increase capacity to help dislocated and unemployed workers—as well as new entrants to the workforce—develop the skills they need to secure the jobs they want, through custom-designed pathways and technology-enabled learning,” added President Adams.

“This program builds on our successful track record of providing employer-informed, industry-relevant training programs that result in graduates securing new jobs or advancing their careers, and employers filling hiring gaps,” said LaGuardia Vice President of Adult and Continuing Education Sunil B. Gupta. 

Dr. Simone Rodriguez, vice president of Kingsborough Community College’s (KBCC) Workforce Development and Continuing Education, and Christine Zagari-LoPorto, director of KCC’s Workforce Development, said KCC would use its portion of the funds to provide students training in information technology.

“We are excited to be able to offer our students the opportunity to earn Comp TIA A+ and ITF industry credentials as they work towards their academic and career goals, helping them become more valuable workforce candidates.”

CUNY’s community colleges provide high-quality associate degree programs that prepare students for senior colleges or entry into professional careers. Each college reduces economic inequality by serving all students, especially the most disadvantaged students, driving economic and social advancement.

The Cybur Initiative will be providing Early and Entry Level Cybersecurity Pathways through the CUNY Consortium.

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