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Support Grows for Staten Island Campus’s College Readiness Initiative

St. John's University staff with Staten Island foundation members.
Monday, December 4, 2017

Thanks to new pledges of $225,000 from two leading foundations, a collaborative effort between St. John’s University and Staten Island’s other two colleges is well positioned to continue its mission of preparing the borough’s young residents for success in college. 

The foundations generous pledges support 30,000 Degrees: College Readiness for a Stronger Staten Island, an initiative created in 2015 by St. John’s, the College of Staten Island (CUNY), and Wagner College. Its goal is to ensure that 30,000 residents of the borough attain a college education by 2025.

“30,000 Degrees is a truly unique opportunity and initiative for St. John’s,” said Robert Fanuzzi, Ph.D., Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Director of Civic Engagement and Public Programs, Staten Island campus. “We now work closely with Staten Island’s two other institutions of higher education to improve college readiness for the good of the borough.”

The Northfield Bank Foundation (NFB), which helped launch 30,000 Degrees in 2015 with an initial pledge of $50,000, recently made an additional pledge of $50,000. NFB’s mission is to promote charitable purposes in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Central New Jersey. 

Richmond County Savings Foundation supported 30,000 Degrees with a recent pledge of $25,000 per year for the next five years. The Foundation is a leading philanthropic institution in the Staten Island community.

According to 30,000 Degrees, nearly 75 percent of Staten Islanders bypass higher education, and the borough ranks second to last in college-educated residents in New York City. Through the program, students at various Staten Island high schools receive support for STEM programs, AP courses, and SAT/ACT prep.

In thanking the two institutions for their support of the program, Crystal Montalvo ’07CPS, ’10G, Executive Director of 30,000 Degrees, was reminded of her days studying at St. John’s. “While I was a student at the Staten Island campus, service to our neighboring community and the pursuit of justice inspired meaning and purpose,” she said. “As a resident and parent on Staten Island now, I am so grateful to our local private funders for their service and commitment to the future of our borough.”

As part of 30,000 Degrees, St. John’s Early Start Academy precollege program brings qualified high school juniors and seniors to the University’s Staten Island campus for credit-bearing courses in their future major or area of career interest. 

“In the spirit of the Vincentian Mission, we embrace this civic purpose,” said Dr. Fanuzzi. “Staten Island, in turn, has embraced what makes St. John’s special—our precollege programs, our retention and graduation rates, our career preparation, and our alumni network—all tied together by our commitment to student success.”