The New York Life Foundation is providing $10 million to fund the Endowment for Emerging African American Issues at the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies at the City College of New York. The endowment will provide permanent funding for scholarships and is expected to help the think tank prepare more African-Americans for a seat at the public policy table at the national and international level.
“There is a tremendous need to conduct policy research on issues of importance to African-Americans and other underserved populations,” says Gen. Colin L. Powell, who served as U.S. Secretary of State from 2001-2005. “Equally important, we need to bring African-Americans and other minorities into the policy-making process, by attracting them to and preparing them for policy careers at all levels.”
Powell joined Gregory H. Williams, the president of CCNY, in accepting the gift from Sy Sternberg, chairman and chief executive officer of New York Life Insurance Company and chairman of the New York Life Foundation. The gift is the largest single grant ever made by the foundation, as well as the largest corporate foundation gift ever received by CCNY.
Williams, who is entering his fifth year as president of the Harlem college, says the funding will increase the center’s ability to serve its students.
“The center is rapidly becoming a national think tank that has as one of its priorities a focus on issues that affect underserved populations in New York, across America and in the global community,” he says.
The Powell Center produces policy research and introduces students to the world of policymaking. The center isn’t exclusive to political science or liberal arts students though. Students in CCNY’s prestigious professional schools of engineering, architecture and education also learn how to policymaking principles in their disciplines.
According to Sternberg, each year The New York Life Endowment for Emerging African-American Issues will fund 21 scholarships — 16 for undergraduates and five for graduate students — as well as eight summer internships. Through the internships, the endowment directly addresses the reality that many students are financially unable to accept unpaid internships that provide valuable hands-on experience and career development.
“From the beginning, I decided that preparing exceptional students from diverse backgrounds for careers in public service should be a large part of what this center does,” Powell says. “In the realm of public policymaking, we need a work force that is truly reflective of modern American society. To achieve that, we must create opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds to prepare for public service careers.”
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