News and Press Releases

For Immediate Release: September 17, 2019



Frank Sobrino, 646-664-9300 (CUNY)

Ryan Max / Annie Leist,, 212-513-9323 (Cultural Affairs)

Ryan Whalen,, 212-852-8350 (Rockefeller Foundation)



Over 100 students will begin paid internships with 45 cultural organizations for the 2019-2020 academic year


In just four years, 440 CUNY students will have participated in the program, contributing over 100,000 work hours to cultural nonprofits citywide


In its latest record-setting budget, DCLA included funding for the CUNY Cultural Corps as a permanent line item, ensuring that the program is sustained for years to come


New York – The City University of New York (CUNY), the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), and The Rockefeller Foundation have announced the launch of the fourth year of the CUNY Cultural Corps, which places students in paid internship positions with New York City non-profit cultural institutions. The program exposes students to opportunities and future careers in the arts while expanding the cultural community’s engagement with CUNY’s diverse pool of talent. As of the current fiscal year, funding for the Cultural Corps has been made a permanent line item in DCLA’s budget, providing long-term support for the program. The Rockefeller Foundation has also established an endowment-based fellowship to support several internships each year in perpetuity.

“CUNY students reflect New York’s vast diversity, which makes the Cultural Corps a wonderful resource as we grow an arts and culture workforce that equitably welcomes all New Yorkers,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “We are so pleased to be providing long-term City support for this program. It means the internships will remain paid, ensuring that students do not have to choose between discovering careers in the arts and earning a paycheck.”

“The CUNY Cultural Corps and the CUNY Service Corps are both prime examples of the ways in which this University plays an indispensable role in the life of the City,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “The beauty of these programs is that they benefit all who participate. They enable CUNY’s students to begin laying the foundation for their future, working with some of the city’s premier cultural and community-focused groups. At the same time, CUNY’s extraordinary racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of students helps these partner organizations advance their own mission to make themselves and their sectors more inclusive and diverse. It really is a win-win situation. I want to thank the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Rockefeller Foundation for their partnership and longtime support of these programs.”

“The young changemakers supported by the David Rockefeller Sr. CUNY Cultural Corps Fellowship are a testament to the legacy of a remarkable leader and visionary who championed New York and its cultural institutions,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “This innovative partnership between CUNY, dozens of cultural institutions, and the Department of Cultural Affairs is creating dynamic career pathways that will ensure New York’s cultural workforce reflects the full diversity of the city. The Rockefeller Foundation is honored to endow this program in perpetuity, and we look forward to seeing the incredible impact these Fellows will have on our city.”

The kickoff celebration was on the afternoon of September 13 at the New York City College of Technology’s New Academic Complex Theater in Brooklyn. The event also marked the seventh year of the CUNY Service Corps, which offers students paid internships and work experience at government agencies and not-for-profit organizations. For official images from the kickoff event, click here.

The Cultural Corps began in 2016 as a response to a demographic survey of DCLA’s constituent organizations. The survey found that the staffs of cultural nonprofits 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. A more recent pilot study of 65 NYC cultural institutions reinforced that these challenges persist. The City’s CreateNYC cultural plan, released in July 2017, reaffirmed DCLA’s commitment to investing in a more inclusive and diverse cultural workforce and the importance of the CUNY Cultural Corps as a key pipeline for talent into NYC’s cultural sector.

This academic year, over 100 students representing 17 CUNY colleges – including both senior and community colleges – will be placed in internships with 45 cultural partners in all five boroughs, including BRIC Media, the Bronx Museum, Harlem Stage, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, El Museo del Barrio, New York Hall of Science, PEN America, the Public Theater, Staten Island Historic Richmond Town, 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.

For the first time, the CUNY Cultural Corps has also established an Alumni Ambassador Program, which will consist of 10 past Corps participants who will serve as mentors to students currently in the program.

“The CUNY Cultural Corps really provides a key ingredient for CUNY’s recipe for success for professional development by connecting students with employment opportunities in some of the city’s most vital cultural institutions,” said Andrea Shapiro Davis, CUNY’s Interim Vice Chancellor of University Advancement. “I couldn’t be prouder to be involved with this program since its inception, and I’m so thankful for the support of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and The Rockefeller Foundation to help provide these tremendous opportunities for our students and to make the city’s cultural sector a more diverse and inclusive place.”

The paid internships filled by members of the CUNY Cultural Corps are supported with funds from DCLA and The Rockefeller Foundation. For the current year, $600,000 of City funding is allocated for the program; since its inception, DCLA has invested more than $2 million. The Cultural Corps now has a dedicated line in DCLA’s budget, allocating $500,000 each year to preserve the continuity of the initiative.

The Rockefeller Foundation, a contributing funder since the start of the program, established an endowment fund this year to sponsor student participation in the CUNY Cultural Corps in perpetuity. This year marks the first class of the “David Rockefeller Sr. CUNY Cultural Corps Fellows” with five students serving in the inaugural group.

“This fund established by the Rockefeller Foundation is yet another example of acknowledging my father’s lifelong commitment to New York City’s cultural institutions and their vitality by investing in the next generation of leaders,” said David Rockefeller Jr., former Board Chair of The Rockefeller Foundation. “I know he would be proud to be a part of providing these well-deserving fellows with access to the wonderful institutions he so loved. I want to thank CUNY for giving my father this vehicle to provide access and opportunity to these students who richly deserve it and represent the city so well.”

“The CUNY Cultural Corps provides CUNY students with the invaluable opportunity of having a paid internship at one of our city’s world-class cultural organizations. Hundreds of students have already benefited from this terrific program, and I am proud to have secured permanent funding in this year’s budget to ensure its long-term success. By investing in the CUNY Cultural Corps, we will foster critical career development and increase the diversity of the cultural workforce,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Chair of the Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee.

“The CUNY Cultural Corps program is another example of how New Yorkers, especially our college students, can benefit from public-private partnerships,” said Council Member Inez Barron, Chair of the Committee on Higher Education. “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, and for making this a permanent line item in their budget. Our CUNY students are creative and possess a wealth of talent. Collaborating with CUNY is a smart investment and will yield positive outcomes..

About CUNY

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in 1847, CUNY counts 13 Nobel Prize and 24 MacArthur (“Genius”) grant winners among its alumni. CUNY students, alumni and faculty have garnered scores of other prestigious honors over the years in recognition of historic contributions to the advancement of the sciences, business, the arts and myriad other fields. The University comprises 25 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, CUNY Graduate Center, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies, CUNY School of Law, CUNY School of Professional Studies and CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 275,000 degree-seeking students. CUNY 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. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s 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 NYC. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit

About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, policy, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas and conversations. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.