Mets Owner’s Foundation Donates Record $116.2 Million to LaGuardia Community College

Key Takeaways:

– Steve Cohen’s foundation, the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, gives a massive donation of $116.2 million to LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.
– The donation is slated for a new workforce development center at the community college — a record-shattering gift for any community college in the U.S.
– The investment underpins a major renovation of the college which will transform a historic industrial building into a state-of-the-art training facility.
– The center is set to be completed in January 2029 and will be the region’s largest technical and career training facility.

Mets owner Steve Cohen’s charity, the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, has surged to the fore with a monumental $116.2 million donation to LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City. This donation, described as the largest in the history of the City University of New York (CUNY), is allocated to a new workforce development center — a novel endeavor for the community college.

A Game-changer for Community College Progress

Alex Cohen, the Foundation’s president, remarked on the purpose of the philanthropic move. “Our intention was to provide students with premium facilities and programs, enabling them to acquire the necessary skills to thrive in a rapidly shifting world.” Furthermore, she pointed out their commitment to positively transforming lives and establishing the Cohen Career Collective within their local community in Queens.

The substantial beneficiary of this foundation’s generosity, LaGuardia Community College, is in the process of transforming a giant industrial building which formerly housed Sunshine Biscuits, the world’s largest bakery. Now, the building is on its way to becoming the largest technical and career training center in the region. Kenneth Adams, the president of LaGuardia, anticipates that the 160,000 square-foot facility will be finished by January 2029.

Breathing New Life into a Historically Large Structure

For years, the community college had grappled with funding challenges to implement full-scale renovations in the mammoth industrial building. With this funding, the college is now set to refurbish the nine-story structure that is easily seen from the 7 train on Thompson Avenue and 29th Street.

Despite the growing number of students in workforce programs, the community college could only use about half of the structure due to limited funds. With this donation, they expect to provide top-tier facilities to the diverse student population, comprised largely of working-class, immigrant students from all over Queens.

Addressing the University’s Infrastructure Struggles

This contribution comes at a pivotal time for CUNY. With a mere 8% of its 300 buildings regarded as “in good repair”, the university is grappling with infrastructure and budgetary issues. Recent budget cuts amounting to $94 million have further exacerbated the challenges and led to a shortage of crucial facilities staff.

A Holistic Approach to Education and Career Development

At this new center, LaGuardia will offer associate degree and industry credential programs in varied fields, including healthcare, technology, construction, hospitality, culinary, green jobs, film, and television. Moreover, the center will be equipped with dedicated facilities for hands-on learning like labs, workshops, a lecture hall, and study areas, plus a career services center with advisors and interview prep.

The college also plans to provide child care, financial literacy training, classes for high-school equivalency, and English instruction for foreign-born students. Additionally, the center will serve as a worksite for LaGuardia’s Summer Youth Employment Program, thereby offering a comprehensive system of support and resources for students.

With the significant impact this donation is poised to make, CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez expresses that it “multiplies CUNY’s role as a vehicle of upward mobility and doubles down on our commitment to having our students gain not just a degree, but a well-paying job after graduation.”

Thus, this historic donation might well go down in history as a transformative moment for community colleges and a lifeline for diverse students looking to enhance their skill sets in a rapidly evolving world.



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