July 6, 2020
Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) has been awarded $100,000 by Trinity Church Wall Street in support of BMCC Project Impact, a program designed to support justice-involved students with educational programs and other services.
BMCC is among 56 recipients of nearly $7 million total in Trinity grants awarded to end systemic racism in New York City and offering alternative models for a new vision of how New Yorkers can reach their potential and thrive.
“We are grateful for our partnership with Trinity and their generous support,” said BMCC Interim President Karrin E. Wilks. “Project Impact is a critical component of BMCC’s commitment to advancing equity and socioeconomic mobility through education.”
“Trinity established racial justice and homelessness as our New York City funding priorities last year. Now COVID-19 is magnifying the inequities in our city – the very inequities that our grants are designed to address,” said the Rev. Phillip A. Jackson, Priest-in-Charge and Vicar of Trinity Church Wall Street. “The pandemic has strengthened Trinity’s calling and commitment to end the cycles of mass homelessness and mass incarceration.”
Of the Trinity grants, $500,000 are specifically designated for Rikers Island re-entry support programs — and this includes the $100,000 awarded to BMCC’s Project Impact, which serves justice-involved students.
“COVID-19 has further intensified the challenges faced by people being released from jails and prisons, who lack access to housing and other supports,” said Neill Coleman, Chief Philanthropy Officer at Trinity. “The pandemic is magnifying the pernicious interconnection between cycles of incarceration and homelessness. These connected cycles were created — and continue to be driven by systemic racism, and at this moment of national uprising against racism, we hope Trinity’s support can break these cycles and advance new visions and just alternatives that can heal our city.”
BMCC Project Impact serves justice-involved students seeking to gain an education, access economic opportunities and redirect their lives.
With Trinity’s support, Project Impact will be able to expand its programs and support the academic success and graduation of more students at BMCC who have been impacted by the justice system, providing them with the tools, credentials and pathways necessary to achieve their goals.
“The purpose of Project Impact is to support our students through their many challenges by providing them access to wraparound services and consistent support,” says Julie Appel, Director of Project Impact at BMCC. “Project Impact opened its doors in January 2019 with one student and now serves more than 100 students who have been formerly incarcerated, have a sibling or parent who has been incarcerated or arrested, have had issues in family court or were in any way affected by the justice system.”
According to BMCC enrollment data, at least 1,500 students who attend the college have been impacted by the justice system.
“This significant number cannot be ignored,” says Appel. “These students not only face the many trying issues presented to underrepresented college students, they also struggle with legal, social and life-sustaining challenges such as housing and food insecurity.Project Impact offers a space on campus where students can gather that is safe, caring and inclusive.”
Project Impact has forged relationships both inside and outside the college to help students thrive on their academic journey.
“We recruit by reaching out to re-entry organizations and community-based organizations that serve justice-impacted students. On campus, we reach out to BMCC faculty, staff and students, and Project Impact grows as BMCC students refer classmates to become members of the program,” says Appel.
Within BMCC, Project Impact works closely with the Urban Male Leadership Academy, Single Stop, the Counseling Center, Panther Partners and other supportive campus groups. Most importantly, Project Impact students become part of a community of peers, faculty and staff who support their journey to achieve their educational goals.
Three BMCC Project Impact programs serve justice-involved students at different stages of their entry into higher education.
A High School Equivalency (HSE) program, an associate degree program and an educational program located at Rikers Island are all part of BMCC Project Impact.
The HSE program at Project Impact, in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education, helps students earn their high school equivalency diploma and explore next steps into college. The HSE program has just completed its first academic year and 72 percent of the students from the first Project Impact cohort have earned their HSE. Many enrolled in associate degree programs at BMCC in the Spring 2020 semester.
Project Impact’s Peer Mentoring Program trains and provides a stipend to Peer Mentors who provide one-on-one support to other students in the program, addressing academic, social and emotional issues as they arise. The peer mentors — who have been impacted by the justice system themselves, and excelled academically at BMCC — take part in a Peer Mentor orientation, workshops throughout the year and weekly support meetings with the director of Project Impact.
“In the Spring 2020 semester, Covid 19 and the abrupt switch to distance learning provided challenges for most students, including those in Project Impact,” says Appel. “Many of our students live in transitional housing, are food insecure or lack the proper technology to participate in their studies. Through the dedication of the Project Impact Peer Mentors, the support of BMCC and the resilience of our students, most of our full-time students successfully completed the Spring 2020 semester and six students graduated from BMCC with associate degrees, and can now move on to four-year institutions.”
In partnership with the Institute for Justice and Opportunity at John Jay College, CUNY, Project Impact has collaborated to offer credit-bearing courses on Riker’s Island. Students who complete this program while incarcerated receive three college credits they can apply to their associate degree. In April 2020, BMCC was awarded Second Chance Pell status which will allow Project Impact to expand the programming offered to students who are incarcerated.
“As we develop all the programs within Project Impact, we are grateful to the generous support of Trinity Church Wall Street,” says Janice Zummo, BMCC Assistant Dean for Academic Support Services. “Trinity’s support will allow us to serve more justice-impacted students within the BMCC community and provide the necessary support and services needed to help these students achieve their lifelong goals.”
About Trinity Church Wall Street
Now in its fourth century, Trinity Church Wall Street is a growing and inclusive Episcopal parish of more than 1,200 members that seeks to serve and heal the world by building neighborhoods that live Gospel truths, generations of faithful leaders, and sustainable communities. The parish is guided by its core values: faith, integrity, inclusiveness, compassion, social justice, and stewardship. Members come from the five boroughs of New York City and surrounding areas to form a racially, ethnically, and economically diverse congregation. More than 20 worship services are offered every week at its historic sanctuaries, Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel, the cornerstones of the parish’s community life, worship, and mission, and online at trinitywallstreet.org. The parish welcomes approximately 2 million visitors per year.
Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) and enrolls almost 27,000 degree-seeking and 11,000 continuing education students a year, awarding associate degrees in more than 50 fields. BMCC ranks #5 among community colleges nationwide in granting associate degrees to minority students, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education. Visit: http://www.bmcc.cuny.edu
- BMCC awarded $100,000 by Trinity Church Wall Street in support of BMCC Project Impact, a program supporting justice-involved students with educational programs and services
- BMCC among 56 recipients of nearly $7 million total in Trinity grants awarded to end systemic racism in New York City
- Project Impact provides a High School Equivalency (HSE) program, an associate degree program and an educational program located at Rikers Island