News from LaGuardia Community College
Last week LaGuardia hosted an event that focused on how CUNY community colleges can elevate job-focused education and career success. Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez and I framed the discussion, which was inspired by a new report by Tamar Jacoby, president of Opportunity America. Errol Louis of Spectrum News NY1 moderated a lively panel discussion that explored CUNY’s role in the city’s economic recovery.
 
LaGuardia is already pursuing several of the recommendations of the Opportunity America report. For example, we’re supporting our Adult and Continuing Education (ACE) students through a new scholarship fund—making LaGuardia one of the few community colleges in the country to offer scholarships to non-degree students. Big thanks to the LaGuardia Foundation Board of Directors for creating and funding this initiative.
 
Many of our ACE Scholarship recipients are Queens residents who lost their jobs during the pandemic and need training to get a new job; others seek upskilling to earn a promotion and better wages. Since there are no federal or state financial aid programs for these non-degree students (tell that to your elected representatives next time you see them) these new scholarships have been a lifelineunemployed job-seekers cannot afford training without them. No surprise that, thanks to the new ACE Scholarships, enrollment in LaGuardia’s EMT, plumbing, pharm tech, data analytics, and other workforce training programs is on the rise. 
 
In another coup by our colleague Tamar, a LaGuardia Veterinary Technology student was featured in a recent Wall Street Journal essay she penned regarding the critical role community colleges across the country play in preparing students for jobs and careers.
 
Happy Fall,
 
Kenneth Adams
President
Fall Semester Begins – Noise Heard in Hallways
I’m pleased to report that our Fall 2021 student headcount is holding strong at 12,000 students – the same level of enrollment of the Spring 2021 semester, giving us hope that we have put the brakes on LaGuardia’s five-year enrollment slide. Classes started on September 9, with 32% being taught in-person or hybrid (a mix of in-person and remote) and the remaining remote. Per CUNY policy, students entering the LaGuardia campus will need to be fully vaccinated by October 21 (save for students with medical and religious exemptions). Next semester, we plan to offer at least 70% of our classes in person.  
New Scholarships Awarded to 1,000 Students in Need
For the first time, at the onset of the fall semester, we awarded LaGuardia Merit Scholarships to 1,000 new and continuing degree-seeking students. This initiative supports the recruitment and retention of high-performing students by awarding them $500 scholarships—to help them pay for textbooks, MetroCards, Wi-Fi, and more. The LaGuardia Merit Scholarships were made possible by the generous support of The Donald and Barbara Zucker Family Foundation, and other friends of the college.
LaGuardia Secures $1.6M Grant to Train Mental Health Workers
LaGuardia was recently awarded a four-year $1.6 million grant by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Our new Mental Health Peer Specialist Training Program will recruit a diverse group of 150 Queens residents with lived experience with mental health conditions who will be trained to work as Mental Health Peers. A key goal of the program is to enable LaGuardia peer specialists to diversify the behavioral health workforce in Queens, and deliver culturally competent mental health services to communities across the borough. Graduates of the program will serve people disproportionately impacted by the pandemic: children, adolescents, young adults, people of color, the economically vulnerable, immigrants, and those with poor health, with an emphasis on individuals in high need areas, such as low-income neighborhoods.
$15 Million "Tomorrow" Campaign off to Strong Start
As I have previously noted in these pages, back in the spring, a generous donor presented us with an ambitious fundraising challenge. We raise $10 million by the end of the year, they give us $5 million—LaGuardia’s largest gift ever. So far, we’ve raised about $4.5 million, and still have many more doors to knock on. To learn about the campaign (and tell us about your door) check out: “TOMORROW—The Campaign to Help Our Students and City Rise and Recover.” Please think of people you know that might want to support our students, and send me a note at PresidentAdams@lagcc.cuny.edu so I can follow up with them. Thank you! 
Malala Fund Partners with LaGuardia Humanitarian Initiative
This year, thanks to the leadership of English Professor Tuli Chatterji, faculty and staff of the LaGuardia Humanitarian Initiative (LHI) will guide students through classroom and experiential projects exploring the United Nations-designated theme of “Encouraging and Empowering through Education.” (Earlier this year, LaGuardia became a member of the United Nations Academic Impact Program.)  Students will learn about barriers that prevent girls and women from access to education, and develop strategies to advocate for women’s rights at home and in communities across the globe in a year-long project with the Malala Fund.
LaGuardia and Queens College Unite to Launch STEM Academy
You know the problem: STEM is one of the fastest growing sectors in New York. But, Black, Latinx, and other students from under-represented minority groups get disproportionately fewer of those coveted STEM jobs. Solution? LaGuardia just scored a major $4.6 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to address this disparity in partnership with Queens College. Together, we are going to launch the Queens STEM Academy to advance STEM education at LaGuardia, and improve transfer pathways for our students into corresponding Bachelor degree programs at Queens College. The Academy will offer special student guidance and support along with faculty exchanges and opportunities for LaGuardia students to take classes on the beautiful Queens College campus.
Why LaGuardia Matters to NYC
I marked my first anniversary at LaGuardia’s by speaking with Cheryl Cohen Effron and Jamie Rubin on their Greater podcast. We discussed why community colleges are essential to New York, what makes them tick, and how LaGuardia in particular is well poised to ensure an equitable recovery as the city emerges from Covid. Have a listen.

1971- 2021:50 Years of Innovation, Excellence, & Ingenuity
As part of Opening Sessions – our semester kick-off event -- I spoke to LaGuardia faculty and staff about innovation in higher education. Innovation is an important part of the LaGuardia culture, and it springs from all corners of the college. As we celebrate our 50th Anniversary, we have five decades of innovations to consider, all of them efforts to improve teaching, learning, and student support in order to ensure the best possible outcomes for LaGuardia students.