Higher Education Leaders from Across the Country Join NYC Public Schools Chancellor David C. Banks and NYC Kids RISE Founding Executive Director Debra-Ellen Glickstein to Welcome Elementary School Students Back to School with an Uplifting Video

As NYC elementary students begin the school year, the diverse group of educators sends an encouraging message reminding students of the boundless opportunities available for their educational futures

September 6, 2023

New York, NYNYC Kids RISE, in collaboration with prominent higher education leaders from across the country, NYC Public Schools, and the NYC Mayor’s Office of Equity, has released a heartwarming video to encourage New York City elementary school students as they start the new school year and remind them of the boundless opportunities available for their educational futures. Through the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program, more than 145,000 NYC public school students across the five boroughs have a financial asset for college and career training with funds that collectively amount to more than $21 million. Approximately 65,000 additional kindergartners will join the Program this school year and every school year going forward. 

The video, which features NYC Public Schools Chancellor David C. Banks, City University of New York (CUNY) Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor John B. King, Jr., and other college and university leaders, with NYC Kids RISE Founding Executive Director Debra-Ellen Glickstein, sends a powerful message to students that their goals and dreams for college and career training are attainable.  The message from higher education leaders is part of a collective effort to foster a strong sense of self-worth, self-belief, and determination in elementary school students with support from every part of their community to achieve educational and economic success. 

The Save for College Program, a universal community-driven wealth-building platform for New York City neighborhoods, provides families, schools, and communities with a means to work together to invest in and save for their children’s futures, reinforcing the expectation that higher learning is a reality for all NYC public school students. 

Along with CUNY Chancellor Rodríguez and SUNY Chancellor King, the video features Spelman College President Helene Gayle, Muhlenberg College President Kathleen Harring, Wellesley College President Paula Johnson, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert Jones, University of California, Merced Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Wesleyan University President Michael S. Roth, and University of Dayton President Eric F. Spina. The video can be viewed here.

“It is critically important that our students start off their academic careers knowing that we believe in the bold future that they have ahead of them,” said Chancellor David C. Banks. “We are thrilled to partner with NYC Kids RISE to give our students a bright start. I am excited for all that the school year has in store for our kids and I can’t wait to see all that they learn and accomplish.”

“Every day, dedicated educators across our city help nurture the dreams of our youngest learners. We are thrilled to see these distinguished higher education leaders unite and encourage New York City’s students to dream big,” said NYC Mayor’s Office of Equity Commissioner Sideya Sherman. “This year, the Save for College Program is poised to welcome an additional approximately 65,000 kindergartners. The Mayor’s Office of Equity is proud to partner with NYC Kids RISE to invest in their futures and ensure all young people in our city have the community support necessary to turn their aspirations into achievements.”

“As we kick off a new school year, we are celebrating our commitment to building a future where every child will know from an early age that they have options. It is our collective responsibility to make sure our children know what is possible, and to support and invest in them so that they can realize their potential,” said NYC Kids RISE Founding Executive Director Debra-Ellen Glickstein. “Thank you to the incredible educators across New York City who are working tirelessly for students every day, and to the outstanding higher education leaders from across the country who have joined us in showcasing what the future can hold.”

“We are thrilled that so many outstanding higher education leaders from across the country are encouraging students from NYC to dream big and start planning for their futures,” said NYC Kids RISE Board Chair Dana Zucker. “Research shows that having pathways to college and career training dramatically increases the likelihood of graduating and there’s no better time to start planning than the beginning of a new school year.”

“It is important for our city’s newest students to hear early and often that they are beginning an exciting lifelong educational journey of limitless opportunities,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “I was pleased to join Chancellor Banks, NYC Kids RISE Executive Director Glickstein and higher education leaders from near and far to help our NYC Public Schools students feel the promise and excitement of the new school year.”

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, “New York City public schools hold a special place in my heart. Both my parents were NYC public school educators. When they passed away while I was young, New York City public schools also became my haven. As an adult, I came back to New York to work in public education because I wanted to provide my students with the same education, the same opportunities my teachers gave me. A new school year can be an exciting and nervous time. But education brings endless opportunities to find the path toward a successful future. When you’re ready, SUNY has a place for you to achieve that success.”

“It’s a joy and a privilege to be able to reach out to NYC students. They have a bright future ahead of them, and we look forward to welcoming some of them to Muhlenberg College,” said Muhlenberg College President Kathleen Harring.

“As a proud student of NYC public schools, I learned early on the immense value of a good education.  As President of Wellesley College, I see first-hand the ways education opens doors to our students, and I want the elementary school students and families reached by NYC Kids RISE to know that we believe in them,” said Wellesley College President Paula A. Johnson.

“NYC Kids RISE is a visionary, game-changing educational program for families. I may be back in the Midwest these days, but I spent a few years in the State of New York as a university president, so I have a very clear understanding of the positive, generational impact this investment in the educational and career futures of NYC kids will have on the social and economic vitality of the entire state and region. I’m proud to lend my voice to welcome some of those students back to school this year,” said University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert Jones

“Our children today will be the leaders of tomorrow, and at UC Merced, we are committed to supporting the academic and economic success of the next generation,” said University of California, Merced Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz. “We wish all of the young scholars a great school year!”

“The beginning of the school year is an exciting time. Summer certainly has its own joys for students, but there is nothing like the opportunity school provides to explore new ideas, learn about others, and push towards higher levels of accomplishment,” said Wesleyan University President Michael S. Roth. “As New York City elementary school students begin the new year, we encourage them to be curious and open to the world around them so that they become the most engaged people they can be. We started school this week, too, at Wesleyan University. Maybe one day we’ll see you on campus!”

“It may seem far away now, but it will only be a short time before you are on campus mastering a new language in our classroom, designing your airplane in our flight lab, starting your business, performing on stage, leading our team in the NCAA tournament, or taking advantage of another opportunity or career training,” said University of Dayton President Eric F. Spina. “Keep exploring and learning. We look forward to great things from you.”

About NYC Kids RISE

The NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program is a public-private-community partnership working to ensure that NYC public school students graduate with a financial asset, and reinforced expectations of success from the ecosystem of institutions and individuals that impact their lives. By providing upfront scholarships for every eligible student, tools and information for families to develop their own college and career savings plans, and a way for entire communities to invest in their children, the Save for College Program enables the entire community to work together to build assets and support expectations of educational and economic success for every child. 

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 Public Schools, and the City of New York, with founding and ongoing support from the Gray Foundation. Through the Save for College Program 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 seed allocation and opportunities to earn more through early rewards, unless their families choose not to participate. Their families can open and connect a college and career savings account that they own for the benefit of their child, and communities can contribute to groups of these NYC Scholarship Accounts through Community Scholarships as both a targeted and universal plat­form for community-driven asset-building in every neighborhood. 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. 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.

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