MEOC Celebrates 50 Years of Free Educational and Workforce Development Services for Underserved New Yorkers

The Manh

Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center (MEOC) will celebrate 50 years providing critical academic and vocational services to underserved residents of Harlem and throughout New York City with an elegant evening of community building and entertainment.

The fundraising gala, “Celebrating 50 Years,” will be held Wednesday, May 3 at Harlem’s legendary Alhambra Ballroom, 2116 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard, New York City.

A cocktail reception will begin at 6 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6:45 p.m. The program will include remarks by MEOC Executive Director Anthony Watson and prominent friends of MEOC.

“This Gala marks 50 years of MEOC providing the residents of Harlem and throughout New York City with exciting opportunities to fuel their socio-economic mobility through education and training,” says MEOC Director Watson. “As part of a SUNY-funded system of educational enterprises, MEOC serves at no cost, eligible adults determined to raise their educational level and employment skills. We are dedicated to building bridges to employment and better lives for our students, as they pursue higher education and compete in today’s fast-changing economy and workforce.”

More than 50,000 individuals have reached their goals through the free educational and workforce development programs at MEOC. Students choose from an array of programs to gain their high school equivalency, enter college, learn English and earn certifications or licenses to work as a nursing assistant, an electronic health record professional and in many other high-demand areas.

The “Celebrating 50 Years Gala” will feature a silent auction. Proceeds from the event will benefit the MEOC Student Emergency and Scholarship Fund.

Gala Honorees


In 1995, Antonio Pérez was appointed President of Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), The City University of New York (CUNY). During his tenure as president, the college has grown from serving 16,000 to more than 27,000 students in associate degree programs. Pérez has championed initiatives that increase the participation of women and low-income students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, and founded programs such as Out in Two, that support student graduation and transfer to four-year colleges. Pérez is widely known for having shepherded BMCC through the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001, when the college’s main campus building became a staging area for more than 2,000 rescue workers. Also on 9/11, BMCC became the only college in U.S. history to have lost a campus building to a terrorist attack. World Trade 7, across the street from BMCC’s Fiterman Hall, collapsed and fell against it, and Pérez spent the next 10 years procuring funding to build a new Fiterman Hall, which opened in August 2012. He has spoken and written widely on leadership during a crisis and challenges to community colleges, and served on dozens of boards, including those of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and Downtown Alliance. Today, Antonio Pérez continues to guide student success initiatives at BMCC, which ranks #5, nationwide, in awarding associate degrees to minority students, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education.

Charles B. Rangel, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, is the first African American member of Congress to lead the powerful Ways and Means Committee. He served 23 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and was the primary sponsor to President Obama’s historic health care reform law. Recognized as one of the hardest-working legislators in Congress, Rangel sponsored 40 bills and resolutions that become law throughout his tenure. Among his greatest legislative accomplishments are having championing causes including the national Empowerment Zone program, Affordable Care Act, Low Income Housing Tax Credit, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Work Opportunity Tax Credit, Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, and the ‘Rangel Amendment’, which sounded the death knoll for apartheid in South Africa. Rangel was first elected to Congress in 1970, after serving in the New York State Assembly and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. Rangel, a Korean War veteran who earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, retired from the United States Congress in 2016 and lives in Harlem, where he was born.

Distinguished Guest

Distinguished Guest H. Carl McCall is Chairman of the State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees, is a former Comptroller of the State of New York, responsible for a pension fund valued at $120 billion. His distinguished career as a public servant includes having served three times as a New York State Senator. He also served as Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Commissioner of the New York State Division of Human Rights. He has championed public education as a former president of the New York City Board of Education and held positions in the private sector including that of Vice President of Citibank and Corporate Director of Tyco International, New Plan Realty Corporation and Ariel Investment. McCall served as a member of the Board of the New York Stock Exchange from 1999 to 2003, as well as the Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc. He has received nine honorary degrees, and in 2003, was awarded the Nelson Rockefeller Distinguished Public Service Award from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University of Albany.

Click HERE to order tickets for the MEOC “Celebrating 50 Years” Gala on May 3.

For more information, please contact Carmel Paleski, MEOC Director of Operations, at (212) 961-8949 or