CUNY Awarded $2.1 Million Grant to Scale Equity-Focused Student Success Strategies

The City University of New York is one of four university systems nationwide selected to share $8.5 million in grants from Strong Start to Finish (SSTF), a privately funded network of education and philanthropic leaders working to address attainment gaps for students from underserved populations.

The organization announced that CUNY would receive $2.1 million over three years to support faculty-led work replacing traditional, stand-alone remedial courses with high-impact co-requisite courses and workshops. Grant funds will be used to create time for faculty teams at CUNY’s 10 associate-granting colleges to develop co-requisite courses and provide professional development to faculty interested in teaching these courses. CUNY aims to double the number of new students completing math and English gateway courses each year to 16,000 and reduce achievement gaps between black or Hispanic students and Asian or white students.

Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost Vita Rabinowitz said the University is deeply grateful for the support and recognition provided by the SSTF grant. “The University is committed to eliminating achievement gaps and raising college completion rates for all its students by scaling best practices already underway at CUNY colleges. We are thrilled to be part of a nation-wide network of institutions and people committed to the same student success goals.  At a time when New Yorkers need college degrees more than ever, we are granting more degrees than ever. We are poised to reach the next level, and this generous grant will help us get there more quickly.”

The grant builds on existing campus and system reforms and will strengthen the University’s Access and Completion agenda, which includes comprehensive remediation reform, expanded use of degree maps, efforts to increase credit taking, and the already-funded scale up of the nationally recognized Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) to 25,000 first-year students each year.

“CUNY colleges have always welcomed underserved populations, but we are more committed than ever to closing achievement gaps and it is very exciting to have national recognition for our efforts,” said Hostos Community College President David Gómez, who is a member of CUNY’s SSTF leadership team.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to support CUNY’s faculty in developing courses that we know are much more effective for students as evidenced by overwhelming data and studies,” said Abderrazak Belkharraz, Chair of LaGuardia Community College’s Department of Mathematics, Engineering, and Computer Science. Professor Belkharraz is a member of CUNY’s Strong Start to Finish leadership team, and CUNY’s winning proposal was strongly informed by his experiences developing and scaling co-requisite mathematics courses at LaGuardia.

SSTF received 47 letters of interest in the grant opportunity from states, higher education systems, regional consortia and metropolitan areas. CUNY was one of nine invited to submit full proposals. “All nine proposals were strong but four emerged as exemplary for their use of evidence-based practices and commitment to achieve greater equity,” SSTF said in its announcement. “Each presents a unique context for learning how systems can effectively support student success in the first year of college.” The other three university systems awarded grants by SSTF are the State University of New York, the Ohio Department of Education and the University System of Georgia.

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in 1847, CUNY counts 13 Nobel Prize and 23 MacArthur (“Genius”) grant winners among its alumni. CUNY students, alumni and faculty have garnered scores of other prestigious honors over the years in recognition of historic contributions to the advancement of the sciences, business, the arts and myriad other fields. The University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, CUNY Graduate Center, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, CUNY School of Law, CUNY School of Professional Studies and CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 272,000 degree-seeking students. CUNY offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.