Governor Cuomo Announces Community Schools Grants to Provide Wraparound Services for Three SUNY Community Colleges

January 14, 2016

From the Office of Governor Cuomo

Jefferson, Mohawk Valley, and Rockland Community Colleges to launch programs in 2016

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $1.5 million to support the creation of three new "Community Schools" programs at Jefferson, Mohawk Valley, and Rockland Community Colleges, all of which are part of the SUNY system. The new programs, which will launch in 2016, are expected to increase college access and support degree completion by providing comprehensive wraparound services for students such as child and elder care, transportation, health care services, family and/or employment counseling, legal aid, and more.

"Access to child care, health care, counseling and other support services can make all the difference when it comes to helping a student succeed," said Governor Cuomo. "By helping to jumpstart these three community schools, we are making an investment in the future of local students and opening new doors to opportunity."

"Access to wrap-around services such as transportation to and from class and on-campus child care can often be the deciding factor in a student’s ability to attend college," said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. "By integrating these services with the academic goals of students, the community schools model truly brings a college degree within reach. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for bringing this evidence-based model to New York State, and congratulations to Jefferson, Mohawk Valley, and Rockland Community Colleges as well as the students and communities they serve."

The governor’s Community College Community Schools initiative is part of a strategy to meet the needs of high-need New York State students and their families. Based in part on the K-12 Community Schools Grant Initiative, funded in the 2013-14 Enacted State Budget and administered by the New York State Education Department, the extension to community colleges builds on the evidence of promising practices from successful community schools models across the state and nation. The initiative seek to coordinate and maximize public, non-profit, and private resources to deliver critical services to students and their families and thereby increase student achievement and attain other positive outcomes.

The 2015-16 New York State Enacted Budget included a new investment of direct State tax support in the amount of $1.5 million to support the creation of up to three Community Schools programs from among the SUNY community colleges operating outside of New York City. Over the course of three years, each grant recipient will receive $500,000.

Thirteen SUNY community colleges submitted proposals totaling $6.5 million, reflecting demand for greater alignments between the academic mission of local colleges and the needs of the communities and students they serve. Among these proposals, Jefferson, Mohawk Valley, and Rockland were chosen based on their capacity to:

  • Maximize investment by leveraging local government and non-profit organization participation,
  • Target high-need communities and student populations, and
  • Establish long-term sustainability of the program.

Program descriptions are as follows:

Jefferson Community College

The Jefferson Community School in the North Country will provide centralized on-campus services to support the unmet health needs and the financial barriers faced by students and their families. The School will target low-income and first-generation students, and provide services to a large population of student veterans, students with disabilities, and single parents. The JCS will support improved academic performance, persistence, and the health and socioeconomic well-being of the Jefferson Community College students. The overall goal of the program is to raise graduation rates for low-income and first-generation students. JCS will host community partners to provide free services to students and their families, including health exams, mental health counseling, financial benefits counseling, a food pantry, child care and transportation assistance, and tax preparation. JCS will also build upon the college’s strong partnerships with local government, non-profit community organizations, and private businesses to ensure that students and their families have access to services addressing their current and emergent needs.

"We are thrilled by the Governor’s announcement and this significant investment in student success," said Carole A. McCoy, President of Jefferson Community College. "There are so many non-academic factors that impose barriers to degree completion. The Community Schools grant gives Jefferson the ability to offer centralized access right here on our campus to critical services provided by our community partners – services that will improve our students’ health and socioeconomic well-being, and ultimately help them to stay in college and succeed academically."

Mohawk Valley Community College

MVCC’s Community College Community School in the Mohawk Valley will utilize community college facilities on the Utica and Rome campuses as well as in downtown Utica to connect students and their families with the services that students need to help them remain in college and complete their studies. MVCC’s school will provide connections to child and elder care services, transportation, family counseling, employment counseling, fiscal support through tax prep, FAFSA prep, and financial counseling, and other support services through an array of public and not-for-profit partners. MVCC will adopt a service navigation model that uses on-campus staff to connect students and their families with existing services and benefits for which they are eligible and that can meet their needs. Partnerships with Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency, Oneida County Workforce Development, and Oneida County Government will be enhanced by affiliation with the Mohawk Valley Anti-Poverty Task Force, a regional group of 100 agencies working to address common issues of families in poverty.

"We have a critically important need to address the challenges faced by our low-income students who know that a college degree is their key to a better future," said MVCC President Randall J. VanWagoner, Ph.D. "This grant award will serve as a catalyst that brings together several partners and services to unbundle the complexities associated with poverty and education."

Rockland Community College

The primary goal of Rockland Community College’s 211 Resource Center Retention and Success Initiative is to increase persistence and retention rates of the target population through a campus- and community- wide approach that connects them with the non-academic resources needed to successfully complete their studies. RCC’s initiative will utilize existing facilities and programs with support from community-based service providers to coordinate access to campus and community-based resources for students. The 211 Resource Center will also coordinate and maximize public, non-profit, and private resources to deliver critical services to students and their families and increase student achievement and attain additional positive outcomes by building awareness, operating an on-campus 211 Resource Center, and promoting institutional climate change to educate faculty and staff to identify students in crisis. Finally, RCC will develop a scalable model that identifies the key strategies, interventions, and partners needed to build a network of accessible non-academic resources that are essential in retaining and graduating today’s students.

"We are enormously grateful to be selected for the SUNY Community Schools Grant and receive funding to enhance our ability to provide non-academic supports and resources necessary for student success and persistence through graduation," said RCC President Cliff Wood. "This grant opportunity is unique in allowing us to work together with community resources like the United Way of Rockland & Westchester and other community partners and provide referrals and resources to help our students succeed by helping their families, so often a key element to ensuring our students are able to stay on the right path to graduation."

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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