Campus Civic Engagement

Staten Island is one of New York City’s fastest changing boroughs, and St. John’s is thriving along with it. 

The Staten Island campus’s civic engagement initiatives are making a St. John’s University education more vital, innovative, and accessible than ever.   

Guided by its Vincentian mission, St. John’s Staten Island campus builds partnerships with local government, high schools, non-profit organizations, neighborhood groups, and churches that increase educational opportunities for underserved youth and build foundations for thriving communities.   

St. John’s is proud to be a founding member “30000 Degrees:  College Readiness for a Stronger Staten Island,” an unprecedented partnership between the borough’s higher education institutions and four local high schools that aims to lift more Staten Island youth into college.  Professors, students, and campus leaders are also involved in Staten Island wide-efforts to combat substance abuse, diet-related illness, food insecurity, and neighborhood violence. 

Staten Island’s West Shore and more urban North Shore are alive with economic development projects that are literally remaking the waterfront and transforming communities.  With the world’s largest Ferris Wheel and proposed zoning changes poised to bring new commercial and residential building projects to Staten Island, St. John’s is building partnerships with the businesses, community organizations, and non-profit corporations that sustain its neighborhoods.

To make the most impact, St. John’s Staten Island campus focuses its community partnerships in three core areas: educational outreach; economic and non-profit development; and public health. 

Message from the Director of Civic Engagement

Robert Fanuzzi

A St. John’s education on the Staten Island campus is unique. We are a close-knit community of faculty, administrators, staff members, and students who believe that a small campus makes a big impact.   

We are especially proud of our history and special role on Staten Island. As the only Catholic higher education institution in the borough, we teach our students to make a positive difference in our community.     

There is a bright future for you on St. John’s Staten Island campus.

Robert Fanuzzi, Ph. D.
Director of Civic Engagement

Learn More

St. John’s University was founded to provide underserved and immigrant students with access to a world-class Catholic university education.  St. John’s Staten Island campus continues this tradition with college readiness programs and outreach initiatives that make higher education more accessible than ever:      

30,000 Degrees: College Readiness for a Stronger Staten Island

St. John’s Staten Island campus has formed a coalition with Wagner College, the College of Staten Island/CUNY, and four local partner high schools to align their college readiness efforts, create new programs, and create 30,000 more college graduates by the year 2025.

St. John’s College Readiness Center

As part of the 300000 Degrees initiative, St. John’s Staten Island campus has created the St. John’s College Readiness Center in Ralph R. McKee High School.The St. John’s College Readiness Center offers an array of St. John’s programs to McKee students and their parents that help them to prepare for the college process and to develop college skills.

Educational Partnerships

St. John’s University is an integral part of Staten Island high school’s academic success and college readiness efforts.

Early Start Academy brings Staten Island high school students to the Staten Island campus for St. John’s University courses in their future major, taught by a university professor. The new “Bridge to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)” sequence of Early Start Academy gives students the academic foundation they will need for career-ready majors and scholarships.The popular College Advantage program lets students gain college credits for required courses right in their own school.

St. John’s professors frequently visit high school academies and learning communities to prepare students for their next step.High school students in turn frequently visit the campus to sample classes and use the research technologies of the Loretto Library.

St. John’s Staten Island campus is building students’ paths to academic success even before they enter college.

“Sandy Ground at St. John’s: Faces of the Underground Railroad”

Grant funded by Humanities New York, “Sandy Ground at St. John’s” brings high school students to the newly renovated Loretto Library Community Learning Commons to engage with the exhibit of Sandy Ground Historical Society and enhance their learning in social studies, American history, Staten Island history, and African-American culture.

Tobin College Department of Management “Difference Makers”

“Difference Makers” is a new program created by Tobin College’s Department of Management on the Staten Island campus that partners high school students with St. John’s community partners, giving them the chance to join St. John’s civic engagement efforts and turn their community service into college preparation.High school students completing their community service receive a certificate of completion, a celebratory dinner with the community partner, and a letter of recommendation. Contact Dr. William Reisel at [email protected] for more information.

School of Education Community Partnership Program

The Community Partnership Program provides a distinct experiential approach to teacher preparation through practical experiences at nonprofit organizations and cultural institutions and serves as a means for cultivating teachers’ knowledge of and responsiveness to issues school-age children and their families can confront.

Contact Regina Mistretta at (718)390-4491 or [email protected]  for more information about the School of Education’s Community Partnership Program.

Staten Island’s non-profit organizations play a key role in bringing services and new policies to the borough.  St. John’s Staten Island campus is playing an active role in promoting the growth of non-profit corporations, one of borough’s most active economic sectors, through research and capacity-builiding partnerships with these key organizations:

Staten Island Economic Development Corporation

SIEDC’s mission is to enhance Staten Island’s economy by promoting public and private investment and encouraging development to improve the quality of life.

Staten Island Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber of Commerce has several goals for local community businesses that involves referring business, helping to solve business problems, promoting local business, and providing networking opportunities.

Central Family Life Center

The only minority-led community center of its kind on Staten Island, Central Family Life Center seeks to improve the lives and environment of Staten Island residents and houses many critical social service programs for the borough’s diverse residents.

North Shore Business Association

The North Shore Business Association is comprised of local business owners whose goal is to bring cohesion and a voice to the North Shore of Staten Island. Our membership is committed to the transformation, beautification and fostering safety in our neighborhoods.

Island Voice

Founded to focus on supporting and giving voice to the African immigrant, African American and Caribbean American and immigrant communities of Staten Island, Island Voice provides innovative programs for youth empowerment, cultural awareness and economic empowerment.

Immigrant Information Center

St. John’s offers capacity building and program support for the Immigrant Information Center, which offers immigration assistance and career building services.

Healthy neighborhoods have green spaces, good air quality, easily accessible fresh food, and abundant recreational access.St. John’s Staten Island Campus plays an active role in promoting the borough’s public health through program and research partnerships with these key organizations:

Staten Island Performing Provider System Healthy Neighborhood Project (SIPPS)

An alliance of clinical and social service providers focused on improving the quality of care and overall heath for Staten Island’s Medicaid and uninsured populations, SIPPS manages the Healthy Neighborhoods research project, a survey of environmental factors affecting health outcomes.

Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness

SIPCW created Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA) to decrease youth substance abuse on Staten Island. A dynamic partnership of private and non-profit organizations, city and state government agencies, philanthropists; parents, teachers and teens, the TYSA initiative brings its members together for mutual assistance and coordinated programs.

City Harvest Healthy Neighborhoods

Through its Healthy Neighborhoods programs, City Harvest partners with residents, community organizations, afterschool programs, and local businesses to achieve a long-term impact in the fight against hunger by engaging residents in healthy choices and enhancing the local food landscape.

Staten Island Hunger Task Force

The Staten Island Hunger Task Force advocates for the needs of families and individuals facing hunger problems and for not-for-profit emergency feeding programs in order to further make sure that hunger needs are meet within Staten Island.

Staten Island Neighborhood Food Initiative

A coalition of City Harvest, Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness and other organizations, this initiative is committed to making Staten Island’s neighborhood healthier by making healthy fruits and vegetables more available.

Staten Island, Richmond County, New York

Don't know much about Staten Island? Don't feel bad. Even those in some areas of New York and New Jersey may not know much about the Island.

Staten Island is a county in the state of New York. Richmond county, or Staten Island, is also a borough of New York City.

As the southern most point in New York state, Staten Island borders mainland New Jersey, separated only by the narrow Arthur Kill river channel and three crossings (Outerbridge, Goethals and Bayonne bridges). On the northeastern tip of the Island, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge stretches across lower New York Bay to Brooklyn.

Demographics of Richmond County*

  • Population - 468,730
  • 63.7% non-Hispanic White; 17.6% Hispanic/Latino/Spanish; 11.7% African American; 7.9% Asian
  • 70.3% - Own a home
  • 28.5% - Bachelor degree or higher
  • 54% - Catholic
  • Median household income - $71,084

*Sources: 2010 US Census; ARDA


  • Total area of 102.5 square miles
  • Land comprises 58.5 square miles; water 44.0 square miles
  • Highest elevation - 410 feet (highest point on the east coast, south of Maine)

Florentine explorer, Giovanni da Verrazano, first sighted Staten Island in 1524 while on an expedition to find a passageway to the Pacific Ocean. Prior to European settlement, the land was occupied by the Lenape Native Americans. In 1661 the Dutch established a colony in present day South Beach and named the island Staaten Eylandt, after a Dutch parliament general. The English soon seized the Island in 1664 for the King of England and renamed it, Richmond, in honor of the Duke of Richmond. The following year, what is thought to be the oldest existing school building in the United States was created, the Voorlezer's House, located in Historic Richmond Town.

In its infancy under European regime, Richmond remained a rural community, supporting many farms, mills and a growing fisherman’s industry, mostly shell fishing. The community began to thrive under the control of the British and by 1700 the population was roughly 1,000.

During the Revolutionary War, General Howe landed his ship at the Water Place, today’s neighborhood of Tompkinsville, in June of 1776.  Thirty thousand prepared for the battle known today as The Battle of Long Island. A month later, General Howe attacked George Washington in the western portion of Long Island, know today as Brooklyn. By September of 1776, a secret peace meeting to end the war took place in what is currently known as the Conference House on the south shore, Tottenville. The final shot of the American Revolution was fired on Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island in 1783.

Control over Staten Island was an ongoing dispute between New York and New Jersey for almost two centuries. New Jersey claimed Staten Island because it is much closer in proximity than to New York, and because of original grants. However, New York claimed ownership of land as far south as Raritan bay. By 1833, both states mutually agreed on the current-day boundaries.

The New York colony, or state, legislature divided the island into four towns in 1788.  These towns were Castleton, Northfield, Southfield and Westfield and had their own elected officials. The state, however, did not supply adequate infrastructure as the sewage and road systems were the worst among the counties in New York. In 1799 a quarantine station for new immigrants was set up in Tompkinsville for those who had Yellow Fever and Small Pox due to an outbreak of disease during the time. Later, it was intentionally burned down by angry residents who feared it would spread disease within the isolated community. In 1897, as a means to generate capital investment, provide adequate infrastructure and improve overall living conditions, Staten Islanders agreed to join four other counties or boroughs that made up New York City.

Numerous historical events occurred in 19th Century Staten Island. During the early 1800s, the Staten Island Ferry began regular operation to New York. Slavery was abolished in New York in 1827, a movement led by Staten Islander, Daniel Tompkins. The Island also progressed with major advancements in its infrastructure and technology. Major thoroughfares were created, the county’s first steamboat and railroad began operation, and a magnetic telegraph line reached its shores. Serving the needs of the growing community, the nation’s first home and hospital for retired seamen and the Island’s first Catholic Parish, St. Peter’s, were established. In addition, the oldest existing public school, currently known as P.S.1 was built.

Development on Staten Island greatly increased during the 20th century.  Vehicular traffic on and off the Island became possible thanks to the construction of bridges. In 1928, the Goethals Bridge, and its sister, the Outerbridge Crossing, opened providing access to mainland, New Jersey. The Goethals Bridge connects the Howland Hook section of Staten Island to Elizabeth, New Jersey. Concurrently opening with the Goethals Bridge was the Outerbridge Crossing, connecting Staten Island’s southern shore to Central New Jersey. Both bridges cross the narrow Arthur Kill channel and are in operation to this day.

With the proliferation of investments and growth of resources, the population of the county was estimated at 221,000 by 1960. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge became the largest contributing factor to the Island’s growth since it’s opening in 1964. As the longest suspension bridge in North America, the Verrazano Bridge opened the floodgates of Brooklyn residents who sought suburban life with access to New York City. By 1980, the population grew by 33% from the previous decade. During the 80s, Staten Island became home to a United States Naval Base, Naval Station New York. It consisted of two sections including the Strategic Homeport in Stapleton and a larger section by Fort Wadsworth. The ‘Teleport’, a satellite earth station complex designed to provide telecommunications for New York and New Jersey, was developed in 1986.

By the end of the 20th century, Staten Islanders became disenchanted with the city of New York. Residents were upset over the disproportionate amount of city funding compared with other boroughs, a lack resources, and underrepresentation in the City Council. Ironically, nearly 100 years after Staten Island joined New York City, Staten Islanders overwhelmingly voted to secede from it in 1993. The bill allowing Staten Island to become autonomous was approved by the state senate, however, one member of the City Council refused to allow a vote on the measure. When Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was elected, he fulfilled many promises made to Island residents, including the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill. During his tenure, cries for secession simmered.

Today, Staten Island is a bedroom community which offers the safety and comfort of suburban living along with the many resources found only in New York City. Because its unique characteristics, both demographically and geographically, Staten Island is known for its history, beauty and culture and home to over 468,000 residents.

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