The 2024 Concert for College Raises More Than $200,000 for College and Career Dreams of Students in Long Island City, Astoria, and Woodside
Grammy-winning Bishop Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Tabernacle Choir headline extraordinary evening of music and community in service of thousands of young New Yorkers
February 8, 2024
NEW YORK—The Center of Hope International and NYC Kids RISE today announced that the Concert for College 2024 has raised more than $200,000 for students across nine elementary schools in Queens. Grammy-award winning gospel artist Bishop Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Tabernacle Choir headlined the concert last night at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center at LaGuardia Community College. All proceeds will go to the NYC Scholarship Accounts of students at P.S. 17, P.S. 76, P.S. 111, P.S. 112, P.S. 151, P.S. 171, Growing Up Green Charter School, Our World Neighborhood Charter School, and VOICE Charter School through the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program, a community tool New Yorkers can use to build wealth in their neighborhoods and support the college and career dreams of their children.
The Concert for College 2024 brought together faith, civic, business, and community leaders and organizations; government and elected officials; school communities; and neighborhood residents to showcase support for our children, and celebrate the fact that nearly every student in elementary school in geographic school district 30 now has an NYC Scholarship Account, a tangible financial asset for higher education. The Concert for College 2024 also included performances by the Community School 111 Gospel Choir, the Spirit in Motion dance ministry, and the Center of Hope International Praise Team.
The Concert for College 2024 is a prime example of one of the ways communities can utilize the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program as a tool to raise financial assets and reinforce expectations of success for the children in the community.
“The Concert for College stands as evidence of the community’s dedication to nurturing the next generation,” said Bishop Mitchell Taylor, Senior Pastor of Center of Hope International. “It communicates our unwavering belief in the potential of our youth and emphasizes the significant influence we wield as a community when we are united toward a common goal.”
“The Concert for College sends a powerful message to our children that we believe in their success and the community is investing in their future,” said Debra-Ellen Glickstein, Founding Executive Director of NYC Kids RISE. “Launched seven years ago right here in our neighborhood, the Save for College Program is a tool for communities to come together to support their children. The Concert for College 2024 was a marquee example of this in action and an incredible demonstration of community, faith, civic, business, and government leaders showing our children what is possible.”
“I’m honored to be part of this year’s Concert for College, which brings together music and dance performances in support of increasing higher education opportunities for low-income families,” said Ana J. Almanzar, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives. “NYC Kids RISE has quickly become an integral part of this City’s comprehensive efforts to expand pathways to college and careers for students from economically disadvantaged communities. Tonight’s concert represents the best of this city and shows the power of our public-private partnerships to support the next generation of New Yorkers.”
“The impressive fundraising results of the Concert for College are a true testament to how we can help our children realize their dreams when communities join together,” said Schools Chancellor David C. Banks. “Since the start of the Save for College Program, District 30 has played an important role in shaping and building what is now a citywide effort. We now have over 200,000 students across the boroughs with NYC Scholarship Accounts and nearly $30 million already invested for their college and career training. At New York City Public Schools, it is our honor to partner with NYC Kids RISE and the Save for College Program to invest in achievement.”
“All children deserve a bright, successful future and a city that supports their dreams,” said NYC Chief Equity Officer and Commissioner Sideya Sherman, NYC Mayor’s Office of Equity & Racial Justice. “The Save for College Program continues to reinforce, through action and opportunity, our city’s commitment to ensuring that the aspirations of all young people are within reach. From central Brooklyn to western Queens, communities are coming together to tangibly support our city’s students’ college and career futures – proving that with collective action, anything is possible.”
“We were thrilled to be among so many Queens community, faith, education, philanthropic and government leaders at the Concert for College,” said Jon and Mindy Gray, Co-Founders of the Gray Foundation. “It was a powerful celebration of the collaborative effort that built the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program and the promise it holds for children across the city.”
Lester Owens, Senior Executive Vice President, Retired Head of Operations for Wells Fargo and proud native of Queens said, “As the Bank of Doing, Wells Fargo is committed to opening pathways to economic advancement through programs that increase access to funding, reduce debt, and drive savings for everyone. That’s why we’re lending our collective voices to focus on overcoming barriers to achieving financial success. The Concert for College shows the power of what local communities can do when coming together with public and private sectors to support the dreams of achieving higher education.”
“We are grateful to support the Concert for College 2024, building on our tangible investment supporting the college and career futures of children across our community,” said Wil Fisher, Director of External Affairs, Rise Light & Power. “Coupled with our significant investments toward a Renewable Ravenswood, we are proud of our partnership with NYC Kids RISE and stand committed to the success of our Western Queens community.”
“Investing in the economic success of our students starts with empowering them to shape their own futures,” stated Blair Ridder, NYC Regional President of M&T Bank. “Access to higher education is critical for our communities to thrive. M&T Bank is proud to support NYC Kids RISE and the Save for College Program.”
“Since the Save for College Program first launched in 2017, right here in Queens, and the Concert for College started in 2019, this community has shown its generous commitment to ensuring that our next generation can seek higher education regardless of economic status,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. “With ever-growing NYC Scholarship Accounts, these students will have a better chance to achieve their dreams and reach their educational goals. I am grateful to everyone who participated.”
“As one of the Save for College Program’s earliest supporters, I am proud of their continued efforts in providing critical assistance to even more families,” said State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris, who previously secured $1 million for NYC Kids RISE during the program’s initial pilot phase. “I know each dollar is used to set children up for success, and the thousands raised at the Concert For College 2024 will go directly to the NYC Scholarship Accounts of students at these 9 schools.”
“I am deeply moved by the efforts of our local nonprofits, community organizations and neighbors who have come together to organize the Concert for College 2024,” said New York State Senator Kristen Gonzalez. “Their commitment to raising over $175,000 for our children’s NYC Scholarship Accounts is a testament to the strength and unity of our community. Together, we are not only investing in our students’ college and career futures but also cementing the belief that every child in Queens deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential!”
“The Concert for College was an outstanding event that raised over $200,000 to help put higher education, whether it be college, trade or vocational school, or an apprenticeship, within reach of so many Queens children who would otherwise have difficulty affording it,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “These much needed funds will help these students achieve their dreams and fulfill their immense potential. My sincere thanks goes out to the concert organizers and all of the incredible partners that made this important fundraising event such a smashing success.”
“When NYC Kids RISE launched in 2017, it was moments like this we were dreaming of: true public-private-community partnership in action in service of our children’s futures,” said Julie Menin, District 5 City Council Member. “The Concert for College represents the best of what we are capable of when we work together. I thank Bishop Taylor and the Center of Hope International for leading this incredible event with NYC Kids RISE, which has helped to grow not just the balance in our kids’ NYC Scholarship Accounts, but their dreams for what is possible.”
“Many of our neighbors in Queensbridge, Ravenswood, and Woodside Houses are public school students, and the $175,000 raised through the Concert for College will ensure that our scholars have everything they need to afford the college education they deserve,” said Council Member Julie Won. “Congratulations to Center of Hope International, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, and community partners for hosting a successful event to support students in our district who are saving money for higher education. I’m proud to fund the NYC Kids RISE college readiness programs in our district, and I look forward to our continued partnership for the success of our students.”
“Every young person who wishes to go to college, pursue their passions, expand their minds, and prepare themselves for a life of flourishing deserves the means to obtain a higher education,” said Council Member Tiffany Cabán. “For too long, this country has treated a college education as a privilege of the wealthy and well-connected. Much respect to everyone involved in the Concert for College for your efforts to flip the script and create pathways for those who might otherwise be shut out. I salute you!”
“It takes all of us to support our children to be successful. At Queensbridge, I am so proud that nearly every elementary school student public school now has an NYC Scholarship Account,” said Queensbridge Houses Resident Association President Corinne Haynes. “Through the Concert for College 2024, our community came together to show our support for our kids, and to raise even more money for their higher education. Thank you to the Center of Hope International, NYC Kids RISE and all the sponsors and partners who make this possible.”
“Over the last seven years, we have seen the funds in the NYC Scholarship Accounts of students across these elementary schools in Long Island City, Astoria, and Woodside grow while demonstrating how the broader community can support the college and career dreams of our youngest members,” said Ravenswood Houses Resident Association President Carol Wilkins. “That’s the power of a Community Scholarship–it showcases how committed the community is to supporting the long-term success of our young people.”
“The Concert for College is one of the many ways our community has used the Save for College Program to come together and make sure our children know that they have a whole ecosystem behind them cheering them on,” said Claudia Coger, Community Leader & Former Astoria Houses Resident Association President. “I am so proud that nearly every elementary school student in Astoria Houses now has an NYC Scholarship Account, with over $300,000 and counting. Thank you to all our partners who have and will continue investing in our children!”
“As a first-generation college graduate and a product of School District 30 myself, I am thrilled that the Concert for College event was such a success. The fact that NYC Kids RISE began in School District 30 and that nearly every child here now has a college and career training scholarship account is truly amazing. This is the true vision of collective impact happening right here in Astoria and Long Island City, where a committed group of individuals, and organizations have come together to support young people from cradle-to-college-to-career,” said Dr. Anju J. Rupchandani, Executive Director, Zone 126. “I am ecstatic as the Executive Director to be in full collaboration and support of NYC Kids RISE and their efforts to change the trajectory of students and families in our community by creating generational wealth, while breaking the cycles of poverty.”
“It was a privilege to stand alongside many community members, leaders, educators, and elected officials at last night’s Concert for College, celebrating NYC Kids RISE and their remarkable achievement of ensuring an NYC Scholarship Account for more than 200,000 elementary school children in our city—and counting,” said Chris Hanway, Executive Director, Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement. “Last night’s event was a testament to the great things that can happen when a community comes together. Riis Settlement is proud to partner in this critical initiative, which will have a tangible and lasting impact on our children’s futures.”
“The Save for College Program stands as a vital component of District 30’s commitment to equipping every student for college and career training, and achieving academic and economic success,” said Lisa Hidalgo, District 30 Community Superintendent. “Community Scholarships such as the Concert for College foster college and career expectations across the District 30 community, and speaks to our collective dedication to the success of all students regardless of a family’s economic or immigration status.”
“When I see how much was raised to increase the possibilities of our children completing their college education, I am elated. Our vision of higher education is being translated into a strong reality. At our school, The Jewel of Long Island City, we speak about going to college each day with our scholars. They know it is an expectation,” said Dionne Jaggon, Community School 111 Principal. “Now with the NYC Kids RISE Scholarship Accounts for college and career training, they have the backing of very generous donors to provide them with the poise and assurance to say: I have my tuition covered. I have a plan! Thank you for making our children a priority in your day.”
“LaGuardia Community College was proud to host the Concert for College 2024 in our performing arts center,” said Kenneth Adams, President of LaGuardia Community College. “This important event brings culture, music, and community together to reinforce expectations of success for children in our communities. By attending this event, we celebrate Black History Month, support the NYC Scholarship Accounts for children in Long Island City and Queens, and invest in the future of our city.”
Community Scholarships, a central element of the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program, are a way for local organizations, businesses, houses of worship, neighbors, and other New Yorkers, institutions and systems to raise and direct money to students’ future college and career training. Anyone can contribute to and/or launch a Community Scholarship, and each one reinforces expectations of students’ success and shows children that their community supports their dreams.
Partners and sponsors of the Concert for College 2024 include Wells Fargo, the Gray Foundation, Rise Light & Power, M&T Bank, The Center of Hope International, NYC Kids RISE, Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement, Zone 126, The Floating Hospital, Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens, Community School District 30, Astoria Baptist Church, Astoria Houses Resident Association, Friendship Baptist Church, Queensbridge Houses Resident Association, Ravenswood Houses Resident Association, and Woodside Houses Resident Association.
About NYC Kids RISE
The NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program is a community tool New Yorkers can use to build wealth in their neighborhoods and support the college and career dreams of their children. The public-private-community partnership provides NYC public school students, starting in kindergarten, with financial resources for higher education and support from their communities to achieve their goals. Students also receive age-appropriate financial education in the classroom through related curriculum extensions.
NYC Kids RISE is a nonprofit organization managing the Save for College Program in partnership with NYC Public Schools and the City of New York. In the fall of 2017, the Save for College Program launched as a pilot in the communities of Queens School District 30 through a partnership between NYC Kids RISE, the NYC Department of Education, and the City of New York, with founding and ongoing support from the Gray Foundation. After the successful pilot, the Save for College Program was included in the Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan by the City’s Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity.
Starting in the 2021-2022 school year, and every year going forward, students in eligible grades enrolled in an NYC public elementary school (including participating charter schools) automatically receive an NYC Scholarship Account invested in a NY 529 Direct Plan account with an initial $100 and opportunities to earn more through early rewards and Community Scholarships, unless their families choose not to participate. At the same time, communities can contribute to groups of these NYC Scholarship Accounts in the form of Community Scholarships as both a targeted and universal tool for community-driven assets in every neighborhood. By combining seed scholarships, family savings, community investments, and funding streams from every level, the Program can build significant assets for public school students, especially low-income students of color.
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