The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Gifts CUNY $10 Million to Promote Change and to Broaden a Scale of initiatives Related to Racial Justice and COVID-19 Pandemic

September 14, 2020

This Gift is the Largest in the Foundation’s 45-Year Record of Support for the Nation’s Largest Urban Public University


These Funds Will Support Chancellor’s Emergency Relief Fund and Other Programs such as CUNY Cultural Corps, Bolster Black, Race and Ethnic Studies and Humanities

Photo Credit – The University CUNY Newswires

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards a $10 million gift to the City University of New York to instill change throughout 25 campuses and to build and extend a series of initiatives related to the Pandemic and the extreme effort to heighten social and racial justice, the Foundation and the University announced today.

This is the Largest gift granted to CUNY by the Mellon Foundation in its 45-year history of supporting the nation’s leading urban public university. The funds will aid advancements in CUNY’s programs in Black, race, and ethnic studies and the humanities; extend programs that gives a pathway to careers in the arts for students from underrepresented communities; and contributed $2.5 million to the Chancellor’s Emergency Relief Fund, which was created in the spring to aid CUNY students facing financial hardship during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“The magnitude of this grant underscores the Mellon Foundation’s fierce commitment to funding vibrant institutions intent on fostering racial equity and social justice,” said Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander. “In addition to CUNY’s other remarkable endeavors, we are honored to support its dedication to strengthening its programs in Black, race and ethnic studies, to expanding its vigorous Cultural Corps and humanities coursework, and to offering financial relief to those students whose educational journeys have been imperiled by the dire challenges of the pandemic. We recognize the extraordinary role CUNY plays in the city that our institutions call home, and we are proud to stand with the University at this unprecedented time.”


“CUNY is deeply grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its historic and very timely support,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “This extraordinarily generous gift will help drive change across our 25 campuses in ways that could not be more relevant at this most challenging moment in time. The foundation’s donation to the Chancellor’s Emergency Relief Grant Program directly addresses the economic crisis set off by Covid-19. Other parts of the grant will help greater numbers of our students and faculty shape the conversations about race relations and racial inequity demanded by ongoing national demands. It will also allow CUNY to support New York City’s cultural institutions at a time of incredible fiscal stress by providing paid student interns to support their staffing needs. Mellon’s vital assistance will help CUNY continue to fulfill its core mission of promoting educational equity and serving as the country’s unparalleled engine for upward social mobility.”

José Luis Cruz, CUNY’s Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost will assist as principal investigator and conduct and administer the administration of Mellon’s gift with the support of the University’s Office of Academic Affairs.


What is the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation?


The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the country’s largest contributor of the arts and humanities. The foundation, since the year 1969 has been based upon its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential towards human understanding. The foundation holds to be true the arts and humanities are how we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be discovered there. Through our grants, we pursue to build communities enriched by purpose and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive.


What is CUNY?


The City University of New York is the country’s largest urban public university. It was founded in 1847 as the nation’s first free public institution of higher education, today CUNY has a total of seven community colleges, 11 senior colleges and seven graduate or professional institutions spread across New York City’s five boroughs, serving a total of 500,000 students of all ages and granting 55,000 degrees each year. CUNY’s combination of quality and affordability propels almost six times as many low income students into the middle class and beyond as all the Ivy League colleges combined. About more than 80 percent of the university graduates stay in New York, contributing to all aspects of the city’s economic, civic and cultural life and diversifying the city’ workforce in almost every sector. CUNY’s graduates and faculty have received many prestigious honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 26 MacArthur “Genius” Grants. The University’s historic mission lives on into this day: to provide a first-rate public education to all students, regardless of means or background.

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