Community Scholarships are a way for communities to leverage their unique assets, institutions, and traditions to visibly and tangibly support their children’s educational futures by contributing to and fundraising for students’ NYC Scholarship Accounts. Community Scholarships also provide a mechanism for policymakers, business leaders, philanthropists to work with communities to build new systems that drive resources into low-income communities and communities of color that have been systematically excluded from wealth-building opportunities. Functionally speaking, Community Scholarships are contributions to groups of NYC Scholarship Accounts through a donation to NYC Kids RISE. NYC Kids RISE deposits 100% of the donations received for Community Scholarships into the NYC Scholarship Accounts of the designated group of students.
The Save for College Program is not only about families saving their own money. It’s about bringing together what families can contribute, what school communities can contribute, what neighbors and community members can contribute, and what institutions and systems throughout the city can come together to contribute to equip every child with resources for their future. By enabling local stakeholders (businesses, neighbors, civic organizations, etc.) to support the NYC Scholarship Accounts in the ways and amounts that make sense for them, Community Scholarships are a tool for demonstrating community-wide support for every child’s future, encouraging families to continue planning and saving for higher education, strengthening social capital, and building generational wealth in neighborhoods.
Community Scholarships are a key lever by which the Save for College Program has the potential to build significant wealth and combat the racial wealth gap. Black and Hispanic families own less than 10% and 12% of the wealth, respectively, of white families. If left unaddressed, research suggests the median Black and median Hispanic family in the U.S. will have zero net assets within the next 50 years. While the Save for College Program alone is not the answer to this challenge—which is rooted in policies and practices of structural racism and discrimination— it has the potential to be one piece of an agenda to combat the racial wealth gap by providing a mechanism to drive targeted financial assets into communities of color via investment accounts that have the potential to grow over time.
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Community Scholarships in action
NYC Kids RISE’s approach to Community Scholarships is driven by the fundamental belief that the institutions in a neighborhood will either reinforce or hinder both the real opportunities for and the expectations of success. Community Scholarships bring the institutions within and across neighborhoods together to invest in their children’s success. Since the first Community Scholarship effort in late-2018, communities have come together through various campaigns, including:
- Seamless’s “Donate the Change” Campaign, which raised more than $300,000 in one month— about $49 for every participating student in the Program—by enabling Seamless diners to round up their order and donate the change to NYC Kids RISE;
- The P.S. 92 Parent-to-Parent Community Scholarship, a contribution from public school parents in Brooklyn who had recently sent their kids off to college to support the next generation of families at P.S. 92 in Corona, Queens;
- Funding Long Island City’s Future, a community-wide, grassroots fundraising campaign supported by more than 100 local businesses, community organizations, parents, residents, and other supporters who came together to show that Long Island City is a neighborhood that supports all of its children to succeed;
- Astoria Houses Community Scholarship, a community campaign led by the Astoria Houses Resident Association to raise $1,000 for every kindergarten, first, second, and third grader that lives in Astoria Houses and attends a pilot school, to let the kids know that their community supports them.
- The Concert for College, a Black History Month gospel concert organized by the Center of Hope International and Community Church of Astoria, two churches in Long Island City and Astoria, which brought nearly 1,000 community members together to raise money for the accounts of students at eight schools in these neighborhoods;