CUNY, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Rockefeller Foundation Announce New Paid Internship Program for Students, CUNY Cultural Corps

CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner (DCLA) Tom Finkelpearl, and The Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin announced a $1 million initiative to create the CUNY Cultural Corps and place dozens of students in paid internships at cultural institutions across the city including MoMA PS1, the New York Botanical Garden, Carnegie Hall, American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Staten Island Museum, and more.

With a $500,000 contribution from DCLA supporting the program this year and another $500,000 from The Rockefeller Foundation already committed to expand it to additional organizations next year, the Cultural Corps will create opportunities for students to develop connections, skills, and talents while gaining valuable experience in one of New York’s most vibrant sectors. With CUNY’s presence in communities all over the city, it will also provide the city’s cultural organizations access to an extraordinary pool of talent, helping them create an increasingly diverse and inclusive workforce that is poised to engage future generations of New Yorkers.

“The arts are a signature industry in New York, but many of our students have not had the opportunity to enjoy them, nor have they had the opportunity to pursue careers in museums, theaters, and other cultural institutions,” said Chancellor Milliken. “We are committed to providing access, education and career opportunities for CUNY students. With the support of the Department of Cultural Affairs and The Rockefeller Foundation, one key piece of this effort—internships exposing CUNY students to careers in the arts and introducing New York’s great cultural institutions to our talented students—will become a reality.”


DCLA and CUNY joined forces to create the Cultural Corps following a 2016 survey of DCLA’s grantee organizations, which found that while the city’s cultural sector is far more diverse than cultural organizations on the national level, it lags behind the demographic diversity of the city’s population. The de Blasio Administration and its citywide partners have now activated more than $4 million toward supporting efforts at diversifying the city’s cultural sector. The launch of the Cultural Corps is a major milestone in these efforts to promote a more equitable, inclusive cultural community with opportunities accessible to New Yorkers from all backgrounds.

“Through this new partnership with CUNY and dozens of cultural organizations, we are taking a major step toward building a sector that embraces every New Yorker,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “These paid internships for students will help make sure nothing stands in their way to pursuing fulfilling careers in the arts. As both a guest instructor and a proud CUNY graduate, I have seen firsthand the incredible diversity and talent of the people who are attracted to this unique urban university. The enthusiasm of these students gives me enormous confidence that together, we can create a cultural community that engages, inspires, and educates every resident for this generation and many more to come.”

“A vibrant cultural sector is essential to the well-being of New York as a whole, but it is crucial that we make sure that our cultural institutions reflect the diverse ideas and experiences that make the City so special,” said Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “The Rockefeller Foundation is thrilled to support the CUNY Cultural Corps in its efforts to expand opportunities for students of all backgrounds to pursue meaningful employment pathways at some of the city’s finest cultural institutions.”

The students will work in a variety of capacities, including curatorial, development, communications, audience services, education, special events, archives, human resources, and technology and exhibitions. Students will also participate in a cultural enrichment program featuring workshops about relevant topics in arts and culture, speakers, and site visits to different institutions.

In the first year of the CUNY Cultural Corps, 85 students, who attend 13 different CUNY institutions—City College, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Lehman College, Queens College, Baruch College, Brooklyn College, Hunter College, Medgar Evers College, New York City College of Technology, Kingsborough Community College, and York College, College of Staten Island, and Borough of Manhattan Community College—will intern at 32 different cultural institutions in a huge variety of disciplines, including theater, dance, visual arts, and more at performing art centers, museums, zoos, and botanical gardens. The students will earn $12 an hour and work 12 hours a week.

The Cultural Corps is an offshoot of the highly successful CUNY Service Corps, which, now in its fourth year, will place more than 710 students at 126 community organizations throughout the five boroughs. The announcement was made today at an event launching both programs for the 2016-2017 academic year.

About the City University of New York
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 25 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY School of Medicine, CUNY Graduate School and University Center, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, CUNY School of Law, CUNY School of Professional Studies, and the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 274,350 degree-seeking students and 260,000 adult and continuing education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.

About the Department of Cultural Affairs Diversity Initiative
As part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vision for a more equitable city, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs launched a major initiative in January 2015 to promote and cultivate diversity among the leadership, staffs, and audiences of cultural organizations in New York City. For a deeper understanding of where the city’s cultural community stands, a survey was conducted of 1,000+ nonprofit organizations across all five boroughs. Released in January 2016, the survey results demonstrated that NYC’s cultural workforce is lagging behind the increasingly diverse demographics of New York City. Among the initiatives primary goals is to forge new partnerships and programs aimed at building a pipeline for the next generation of leaders, promoting a cultural sector that reflects the city it serves.

About The Rockefeller Foundation
For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today, The Rockefeller Foundation pursues this mission through dual goals: advancing inclusive economies that expand opportunities for more broadly shared prosperity, and building resilience by helping people, communities and institutions prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. To achieve these goals, The Rockefeller Foundation works at the intersection of four focus areas—advance health, revalue ecosystems, secure livelihoods, and transform cities—to address the root causes of emerging challenges and create systemic change. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot—or will not. To learn more, please visit