New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and City College of New York (CUNY) Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez announced the new CUNY Reconnect program which aims to begin bringing back approximately 10,000 working-age students who left a CUNY institution without a degree.
The initiative, launching this upcoming fall semester, seeks to re-enroll thousands of New Yorkers who earned some college credits but ultimately did not complete their degree.
The CUNY Reconnect pilot program has an allocated $4.4 million funded by the city’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget to help students secure degrees or other credentials to improve their economic mobility as well as bolster the city’s economy following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Expanding opportunities for working New Yorkers is critical to supporting our communities and advancing our local economy,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams in an announcement Aug 30. “CUNY Reconnect is designed to create economic opportunities for New Yorkers, especially Black and Latina women and other women of color who disproportionately comprise students with college credits but no degree. The Council championed this $4.4 million pilot initiative in the city budget that will serve thousands of returning students this fall, and hopefully tens of thousands more in future expansions. I thank CUNY Chancellor Matos Rodríguez for his partnership, the Center for an Urban Future for their important work to advance this idea, and my Council colleagues for their commitment to supporting advancement opportunities for New Yorkers.”
CUNY Reconnect plans to begin enrolling 10,000 returning students for the 2022 fall semester, while estimating that there are about 700,000 working-age New Yorkers who have earned credits and could return to complete their degrees in the city now.
This number includes students who may have left their studies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as those who withdrew years or even decades ago for various reasons.
The initiative will also conduct outreach to high school students who graduated during the pandemic and were unable to attend college because of personal circumstances.
“We know how hard it is to restart a college education. By recruiting former college students and making it easier for them to return to school, CUNY Reconnect will help working adults obtain the education they need for better-paying jobs, which will fuel the city’s economic recovery from the pandemic,” said Chancellor Rodríguez. “Returning to college after a significant break can be daunting, but by creating a welcoming and personalized readmission process, we can ease that transition for many thousands who stand to benefit and put them on the pathway to life-changing opportunity. We thank Speaker Adams and the City Council for their partnership in creating and funding a bold initiative that can help so many New Yorkers as well as the city itself.”
The program will offer returning students credit for prior learning along with the options of online and specialized programs to ensure flexibility when returning to education.
“As the largest public urban university in the nation, CUNY has long been a proven stepping stone to class mobility for New Yorkers,” said Council Member Justin Brannan, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Finance. “The institution has been nothing short of a resounding success story for our city. I can’t think of a better way to double down on CUNY than to proactively reach out to students who could not finish their degrees for one reason or another and helping them across the finish line. I was proud to prioritize CUNY Reconnect in budget negotiations, because funding this initiative means promising that your chance to improve your life with a CUNY degree never expires. That’s a down payment on accessible higher education, upward economic mobility, and a more prosperous future for NYC.”