Chancellor Malatras Opens Four SUNY Educational Opportunity Centers to Help New Yorkers Navigate Vaccine Appointment Process

March 5, 2021

EOCs in The Bronx, Syracuse, Rochester, and Troy Are Ready to Assist Vaccine-Eligible New Yorkers Without Computers, Internet Access, or Those Struggling to Navigate Online Appointment Process

Effort Follows SUNY’s 32 Campuses Helping Administer Over 379K Vaccines

Launches PSA Series with SUNY’s Leading Health Experts and Community Leaders to Help Dispel Common Vaccine Misconceptions

Link to First PSA Here; Photos from Bronx EOC Announcement Here


Bronx, NY
– State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today announced that four SUNY-run Educational Opportunity Centers (EOCs) are now available to help eligible New Yorkers navigate the vaccination appointment process. Starting Monday, staff at EOCs in the Bronx, Syracuse, Rochester, and Troy will begin assisting individuals who may not have access to a computer or internet, or who may be struggling for any reason to navigate the appointment-making process. Additional EOCs are expected to sign on in the weeks to come.

Chancellor Malatras also released the first PSA in a new campaign that features SUNY’s leading health experts and community leaders, delivering facts that dispel common vaccine misconceptions and build confidence in the FDA-approved Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

Chancellor Malatras made the announcement today at the Bronx EOC following a tour of the facility and meetings with students, staff, and Bronx EOC CEO and Executive Director Ronnie Hector.  

"No eligible New Yorker should be denied access to COVID-19 vaccines because they don’t have a computer or high-speed internet, or because they feel overwhelmed by the appointment-making process," said Chancellor Malatras. "Starting Monday, four SUNY Educational Opportunity Centers embedded in some of the state’s most under-resourced communities are now providing both technical and personal assistance to anyone struggling to navigate the vaccine appointment process. We are also launching a PSA featuring SUNY’s nation-leading health experts designed to dispel misinformation, provide facts, and build confidence in available vaccines so that people can make educated decisions in the weeks and months to come. The pandemic has exacerbated many existing societal inequities, but with outreach, education, one-on-one assistance, and access to technology, we can help ensure that every New Yorker can get vaccinated and protected from this vicious virus."  

Ronnie Hector, Executive Director, SUNY Bronx EOC, said, "Our Bronx EOC has been a staple here for over 30 years, fighting for and empowering the community to be self-sustainable. We remain committed to developing pathways for students to grow and learn, and these strengths are allowing us change gears to help New Yorkers schedule vaccination appointments. Partnering with SUNY has made it even more possible to do the incredible things we’re known for in the Bronx, and we look forward to helping New Yorkers get the care they need."

Julio Olaizola, SUNY ATTAIN Project Manager, said, "SUNY’s EOCs and ATTAIN Labs are known for giving people in our communities opportunities that they may not have otherwise. One of our specialties is providing access to technology and navigational tools—we want our communities to know they have a place to go and a place they can count on. Providing support in the vaccination effort taking place in New York State and getting people set up with appointments is a huge source of pride for us, and helps us further highlight why SUNY is recognized globally as a leader in service."

Since vaccines became available in mid-December, 32 SUNY campuses had administered more than 379,000 vaccines earlier this week. Those 32 campuses include 11 state-operated campuses, 15 community colleges, and six hospitals. SUNY will continue to offer all remaining campuses to serve as vaccination sites to accelerate vaccine distribution across New York.

Despite the safety of the vaccines, many Americans remain hesitant, with 69 percent of respondents in a recent poll saying they would get a vaccine, an increase from previous months but still short of the 75-90 percent needed for herd immunity. Confidence remains particularly low among Black Americans, with only 58 percent saying they would get a vaccine.

To help dispel misconceptions and build vaccine confidence, particularly among Black and underserved communities, SUNY is launching a series of PSAs featuring SUNY’s leading medical experts and trusted community leaders. The PSAs will be distributed by SUNY schools across the state as well as through community networks to reach populations where vaccine hesitancy remains highest.

In 1966, SUNY’s commitment to serving underprepared students more extensively led to the creation of four Urban Centers Manhattan, Brooklyn, Albany, and Buffalo. Those services were extended further in 1969 with the forming of seven Cooperative College Centers in Syracuse, Wyandanch, Mount Vernon, Buffalo, Rochester, Westchester, and Nassau.

In 1973, the Urban Centers and Cooperative Colleges merged to form Educational Opportunity Centers in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Troy, Yonkers, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island offering vocational training, college preparation, and support and community services aimed at neighborhood residents.

Today, the network of 10 Educational Opportunity Centers, 2 outreach centers and collection of ATTAIN labs represent a major effort by SUNY to meet the educational and vocational needs of people facing economic hardships. Their programs—including the new SUNY For All free Online Training Center—are designed to make education and job training accessible to more New Yorkers—no matter where they are and what hurdles stand in their way.

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 state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 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 2021, 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 opportunity, visit suny.edu.


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