News and Press Releases

For Immediate Release: September 7, 2018

Contact: Frank Sobrino (646) 664-9300 (CUNY)

Ryan Max,, 212-513-9323 (Cultural Affairs)

Erissa Scalera,, 212-852-8430 (Rockefeller Foundation)


Over 130 students from 16 CUNY colleges will begin paid internships with 63 cultural organizations for the 2018-2019 academic year

With this new cohort, 340 CUNY students have participated in the program since it launched in 2016, contributing nearly 62,000 work hours to cultural nonprofits citywide

New York – Today the City University of New York (CUNY), the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), and the Rockefeller Foundation announced the launch of the third year of the CUNY Cultural Corps. The Cultural Corps places students in paid internship positions with New York City nonprofit cultural institutions – exposing students to opportunities and future careers in the arts and expanding the cultural community’s engagement with CUNY’s diverse pool of talent.

“Connecting CUNY students to paid positions in our City’s cultural institutions has been a game-changer, opening up a remarkable source of talent and new energy for our city’s cultural institutions and providing future leaders with hands-on work experience in the sector,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “I’ve had the honor to meet dozens of Cultural Corps members since we launched the program two years ago. With such an amazing group of young people brining their ideas and enthusiasm, I am incredibly optimistic for the future of New York’s cultural community. On behalf of Mayor de Blasio, congratulations to this latest group of CUNY Cultural Corps members.”

CUNY Interim Chancellor Vita Rabinowitz said, “The University is proud to celebrate the third cohort of the CUNY Cultural Corps, which has become an important force for introducing talented, ambitious CUNY students to opportunities with New York City’s incredible array of cultural institutions, and for introducing these organizations to the diversity of talent, energy and viewpoints our students bring. The institutions benefit, and the students benefit from internships that are not only an important part of their educational experience, but can lead to satisfying and exciting New York careers.”

The kickoff celebration is Sept. 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Tribeca Performing Arts Center. The event also marks the sixth year of the CUNY Service Corps, which provides students paid internships and work experience at government agencies and not-for-profit organizations.

The Cultural Corps began in 2016 as a response to the City’s demographic survey of DCLA’s grantees. The survey found that the staffs of cultural organizations fail to reflect the diversity of the city itself: 38 percent of cultural organization employees identified as people of color compared with 67 percent of city residents. Similar patterns hold for other categories such as gender identity and disability. The City’s CreateNYC cultural plan, released in July 2017, reaffirmed DCLA’s commitment to investing in a more inclusive and diverse cultural workforce. The Cultural Corps is one of the primary initiatives in the plan aimed at increasing this goal, expanding groups’ access to new talent and helping to ensure that cultural programming connects with all New Yorkers.

The Cultural Corps aims to be a strong student pipeline for successful alumni into New York City’s arts and culture institutions, expanding the pool of talented students that have access to employment opportunities in these organizations. These institutions include nonprofit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary and performing arts as well as public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens and historic and preservation societies. The CUNY Cultural Corps is supported with funds from The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Rockefeller Foundation totaling more than $2.3 million since the program’s inception.

Ryan Whalen, Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation, said, “The CUNY Cultural Corps is an outstanding example of how to build an innovative partnership. Because of the strong commitment of CUNY, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the dozens of participating institutions across the city, young changemakers are building exciting careers in the arts and culture. The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to support the CUNY Cultural Corps, and we look forward to seeing the impact these students will have in all five boroughs and beyond.”

“CUNY Cultural Corps has provided hundreds of talented students from all backgrounds with invaluable career opportunities and educational experiences,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “I will continue to fight for innovative professional development programs like the Cultural Corps to ensure that diversity and inclusion are reflected in the workforces at our City’s best arts, humanities, and cultural institutions.”

“The CUNY Cultural Corps program is another example of how New Yorkers, especially our college students, can benefit from public-private partnerships. I applaud the Department of Cultural Affairs for responding with a program that addresses the gap that exists between our racially and ethnically diverse communities and cultural institutions. Our CUNY students are creative and possess a wealth of talent. Collaborating with CUNY is a smart investment and will yield positive outcomes,” said Council Member Inez Barron.

“Cultural Corps provides its students with the opportunity to gain experience in a vibrant sector, leading to a brighter future for us all,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “New York is the cultural capital of the world and it is critical that its institutions have access to the best talent. Thank you to CUNY, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Rockefeller Foundation for equipping New York’s students with the experience they need to succeed.”

“CUNY students bring smarts, enthusiasm, and a thirst for knowledge to workplaces, as I’ve been fortunate to see first-hand through my office’s own CUNY fellowship program,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This is a tremendous opportunity not just for the participating CUNY students, but for our cultural institutions to learn and grow from them as well.”

“Queens has great pride in its cultural institutions, and one reason we do is that they are staffed in part by the talented CUNY students who participate in the CUNY Cultural Corps program,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “The Cultural Corps participants bring enthusiasm and diverse viewpoints to the institutions where they work, helping to make those institutions even more worthwhile to visit. CUNY, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Rockefeller Foundation deserve to be commended for launching this valuable program.”

“This partnership is a win-win,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. “CUNY students have the opportunity to learn from the cultural organizations they work with and earn a little money, while our amazing cultural institutions gain a staff member and the ability to impact another life. I wish the members of the CUNY Cultural Corps luck with their latest endeavors.”

This academic year, 130 students representing 16 CUNY colleges – including senior, comprehensive, and community colleges – will be placed in internships with 63 cultural partners in all five boroughs, including the American Museum of Natural History, El Museo del Barrio, Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, Bronx Council on the Arts, Urban Bush Women, and more. A full list is available at the Cultural Corps’ Website.

The website also offers the chance to hear directly from Cultural Corps participants. According to them, the internships offer significant rewards for the partner cultural organizations, and can be life changing for the students.

About CUNY

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, CUNY Graduate Center, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, CUNY School of Law, CUNY School of Professional Studies and CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 272,000 degree-seeking students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 400 high schools throughout the five boroughs. The University offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.

About NYC Department of Cultural Affairs

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City's vibrant cultural life. Among our primary missions is to ensure adequate public funding for non-profit cultural organizations, both large and small, throughout the five boroughs.

DCLA also works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City's economic vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City's five boroughs.