The first cohort of students from throughout The City University of New York system began training today to help rebuild Puerto Rico, which is still suffering a humanitarian crisis nearly nine months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. More than 2,700 CUNY students applied to volunteer for the NY Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative launched by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. The first 40 of 200 selected students that CUNY is sending to Puerto Rico leave for the island on Sunday.

“We take great pride in the CUNY students who have volunteered to make an impact on the lives of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico,” said CUNY Board of Trustees Chairperson William C. Thompson Jr. “Our students are letting everyone in Puerto Rico know they are not forgotten.”

“These students, through the work they have volunteered to do this summer, are setting a high standard for all of us as caring global citizens,” said CUNY Interim Chancellor Vita Rabinowitz. “This program is a perfect example of the University’s commitment to service and social engagement.”

Every week for the next eight weeks a group of CUNY Service Corps students will receive two days of training before departing for the island, where they will stay for two weeks, volunteering with different nonprofits as they work five days a week rebuilding homes, including repairing doors, windows and roofs, and removing mold.

Students have the option to receive credit for their volunteer work. Most have opted for a hybrid course entitled Global Citizenship, Community Engagement, and Service in Latin America and the Caribbean, created at Lehman College but open to all CUNY students. Other colleges are offering courses specific to their own academic programs, such as a Construction Management course for New York City College of Technology students.  CUNY has waived all tuition and fees associated with these courses.

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 275,000 degree-seeking students. CUNY offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.