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PR- 109-07
April 16, 2007


Center on Economic Opportunity Initiative to Help One Thousand Students Obtain an Associate Degree - Totally Free For Those Who Qualify

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chancellor Matthew Goldstein today announced the launch of the Center for Economic Opportunity's (CEO) first initiative aimed at improving the education and career prospects of working New Yorkers - the Accelerated Study in Associate Program. This is another one of the Center on Economic Opportunity's recommendations as outlined in the State of the City address, which will focus on the needs of the working poor of New York City. This initiative will help CUNY's community college students to step forward to earn higher degrees - and then, higher incomes. The program, which will also be known as ASAP, will allow CUNY community college students to attend all of their classes at the same time of day or on weekends to accommodate their work schedules. Students will attend classes in peer cohort groups on the same schedule and with the same academic interests for the duration of the program and will receive dedicated tutorial support and mentoring. Joining the Mayor and Chancellor Goldstein at the Bronx Community College Campus, one of the six City University of New York (CUNY) campuses that will offer the program, were Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, Linda Gibbs; Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development, Dennis Walcott; President of Bronx Community College, Dr. Carolyn Williams; and Vice President for College Bookstore at Barnes and Noble, Paul Maloney. The CEO has committed $6.5 million for FY 08 to the ASAP.

"We created the Center for Economic Opportunity to look at our most difficult problems and to come up with innovative ways to attack them. This new ASAP program is a sensible way to tear down the roadblocks for New Yorkers whose only college choice is to earn and learn at the same time," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We must provide New Yorkers a chance to further their education, and we must provide New York City with the educated workforce necessary to stay globally competitive."

"We commend Mayor Bloomberg for his support and recognition of the importance of a community college education here in New York City and throughout the nation," said Chancellor Goldstein. "CUNY's ASAP will enhance students' ability to graduate in a timely manner with the skills that are required in today's competitive marketplace."

"ASAP is an ideal opportunity for those students who must juggle work, school and family responsibilities, and the cohort model provides a cooperative and supportive environment that makes this possible," said Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs.

Nationally, only 17% of students who enroll in a community college end up receiving an Associate's degree. In New York City, that number is higher, but still only 21%. For many students, competing work and family responsibilities can prolong or interrupt college attendance. More than 60% of the City's community college students balance their studies with full-time or part-time work. Family responsibilities, such as the care of small children, can also impede the completion of a college degree. ASAP's aim is to graduate and place 50% of program participants in a full-time job or baccalaureate program within three years and 75% within four years.

ASAP will accommodate the needs of the students to help increase their chances of completing their Associate degrees by bringing three innovations to six community colleges in New York City (Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College, Hostos Community College, Kingsborough Community College, LaGuardia Community College, and Queensborough Community College.) The programs, which are aimed at high school students from poor families who are wavering between attending college and entering the workforce, and the working poor who are trying to gain news skills to advance their careers and earn higher incomes, will be built on three core elements:


Block scheduling will allow students to attend classes in the morning, afternoon, at night, or on weekends to accommodate their work schedules.

Small Cohorts of no more than 25 students - students will follow the same schedule and share the same academic interests for the duration of the program.

On-campus tutorial support and mentoring will ensure that students receive the academic preparation necessary to help them reach their full potential.

ASAP will be totally free to those who qualify.

Barnes and Noble will provide underwriting support that will enable students to receive free textbooks. This funding is above and beyond the $6.5 million that the CEO has committed for FY 2008 for the program.

"Barnes and Noble is proud to support this effort by the Mayor to help aspiring students achieve their educational goals," said Paul Maloney, Vice President for College Bookstores at Barnes and Noble.

Each participating CUNY school will admit qualified students who will be expected to graduate with an Associate degree and to increase their earning power enough to raise and maintain their families above the poverty threshold.

CUNY is currently accepting applications for Accelerated Study in Associate Programs at the six community colleges. Interested students should visit, or call 3-1-1 to learn more about the programs at the six campuses and eligibility requirements. Full-time enrollment for 1,000 students at the six CUNY community colleges begins in September 2007. Students eligible for federal and/or state financial aid will receive additional funding through the program to pay the balance of tuition and school fees.

The City University of New York

The City University of New York is the nation's largest urban public university. CUNY is comprised of twenty three institutions: eleven senior colleges, six community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College, the Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law at Queens College, the CUNY School of Professional Studies, and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. The University serves more than 226,000 degree-credit students and 230,000 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University's academic enrichment program for 32,500 high school students is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 280 high schools throughout the five boroughs of the City of New York. The University has launched an on-line baccalaureate degree through the School of Professional Studies, and a new Teacher Academy offering free tuition for highly motivated mathematics and science majors who seek teaching careers in the city's public schools.

The Center for Economic Opportunity

The Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) was established to develop the recommendations made by the Commission for Economic Opportunity into innovative initiatives and, in turn, works with City Agencies to design and implement evidence based strategies and programs aimed at reducing poverty. The CEO manages an Innovation Fund through which it provides City Agencies annual funding to implement these initiatives and will rigorously evaluate of all CEO programs to determine which programs are successful in demonstrably assisting households below the poverty level in increasing their self-sufficiency and, as such, which should receive further funding.


Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker   (212) 788-2958

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