We report on a large donation given to New Community College in New York – possibly one of the biggest donations to ever be given to a two-year school. Now, the school is changing its name and using the money to improve completion rates and provide grants to eligible students.
New Community College in New York has just found itself $15 million richer, thanks to a generous donation from the Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation. As one of the largest donations in community college history, the school felt a name change was in order as well. Now, New York’s newest community college will be known as the Stella and Charles Guttman Community College. In addition to the new name, the school is preparing to launch initiatives to improve graduation rates and expand their financial aid opportunities, courtesy of the foundation that is now the school’s namesake as well.
The Birth of a School
The New York Times reported in July, 2012, that New Community College was about to open its doors to its inaugural class of incoming high school graduates. The school was a new endeavor by City University of New York to bring an innovative two-year school to the Big Apple. New Community College wasted no time reaching out to the surrounding community of potential students; many of whom found the idea of higher education overwhelming and even out of reach.
The primary goal of New Community College was to provide relief for what ails community colleges today. CUNY designed the school structure from scratch, including a full curriculum that school officials hope will improve graduation rates and increase transfers to four-year schools. New York Community College Chancellor Matthew Goldstein stated on the CUNY website, “There is no more urgent task in higher education than to find ways to help more community college students succeed.”
New Ideas, New Structure
New Community College is not afraid to divert from traditional community college methods if it means improving student odds for success. Unlike most community colleges across the country, New Community College does not offer any non-credit remedial courses to help bring students up to speed before heading into more rigorous college coursework. Every class at NCC is for-credit, and remedial education is built in to each individual class to ensure struggling students get the support needed to succeed.
The college also offers a required Summer Bridge Program, which consists of three weeks prior to the beginning of the school year, where students explore their own strengths and potential challenges. The program provides students with strategies that will help them succeed in their college classes. The program is also used to build a sense of community among students and faculty so students feel supported when they begin their college coursework in the fall.
During their first year, students at New Community College take a core set of classes that equip them with the skills necessary to manage college-level coursework. Required classes include studies regarding working in New York City specifically and finding a place in the working world in general. Students are also required to attend school full-time during their first year, to improve their odds for completion of their degree programs within a reasonable period of time.
New Programs, Thanks to Grant
More recently, the New York Times reported on the decision by the Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation to award the $15 million grant to the school. The foundation is also awarding an additional $10 million to the other seven CUNY community colleges, for the purpose of increasing graduation rates across the city. The $25 million gift marks the largest donation in the history of the foundation, totaling one-half of the foundation’s assets for this year.
Charles Guttman was raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His formal education ended at the age of 13. Guttman eventually founded the Paddington Corporation, the company that imports J&B Scotch, among other products. Guttman and his spouse Stella died in 1969 after amassing their fortune, which was all left to charity via their foundation.
Today, the foundation seeks the “improvement and benefit of mankind, and the alleviation of human suffering,” according to the New York Times. According to the foundation’s website, most of the contributions made by the foundation have supported educational opportunities or social services. The foundation is primarily interested in meeting the needs of children, families and the elderly.
New Community College is showing its thanks to the Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation through its pending name change. The new Stella and Charles Guttman Community College plans to use the $15 million gift to promote the college’s programs designed to improve student retention and completion rates. The other $10 million awarded to the seven city community colleges will be used to finance grants for qualifying students, and to enhance transfer programs within the CUNY community college system.
“The Guttman Foundation’s commitment to CUNY’s community colleges shows a deep understanding of the profound changes that community colleges make in the lives of our students and of our city,” Benno Schmidt, chairperson of the CUNY Board of Trustees, told Bloomberg Business Week. “Community college students, who often start needing significant help in English, reading and math are eager to excel, and many of them do so spectacularly. With this gift, CUNY will have greater capacity to help many more of them move into promising careers and baccalaureate programs.”
Currently, New Community College is housed in a single building by Bryant Park. The inaugural class of just 300 students enjoys small class sizes and plenty of personal attention from professors. The school eventually hopes to move to a larger location, so that it can ultimately house 5,000 students each year. The foundation gift will surely help this school ramp up its programs and size to become a major community college force in New York City in upcoming years.
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