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Mets owners award more than $116M to LaGuardia Community College to establish Cohen Career Collective on LIC campus

Mar. 20, 2024 By Bill Parry

The Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation has awarded a grant of $116.2 million to LaGuardia Community College to create a new state-of-the-art workforce training center at its Long Island City campus.

The 160,000-square-foot Cohen Career Collective facility will ensure economic mobility for New Yorkers while providing skilled workers for local employers. Construction of the facility is anticipated to be completed by January 2029.

Photo courtesy of the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation

The gift is the largest ever to a community college in the United States and was a long-time vision and dream of Alex Cohen, the president of the foundation who also co-owns the Mets with her husband Steven.

“I wanted to create a place where students have access to high-quality programs and facilities and can learn skills they need to succeed in a rapidly changing world,” Cohen said. “Our goal is to make a positive difference in people’s lives. We are proud to create the Cohen Career Collective and are committed to our neighbors here in Queens.”

Education and training programs at the center will lead to associate degrees, industry certifications, and other credentials valued by employers citywide in high-demand sectors including healthcare, construction, technology, culinary and hospitality, green jobs, and film and television. Comprehensive student support services will also be available, such as career advising, preparation for job interviews, job placement, childcare, and financial literacy training.

“The Cohen Career Collective will be the largest career and technical training facility of its kind in the region, offering programs to prepare New Yorkers of all ages, backgrounds, and educational levels for good jobs in high-growth sectors of our local economy,” LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams said.

“Alex Cohen is passionate about making quality, affordable workforce training available to low-income Yorkers who want to learn new skills, get good jobs, and provide for their families. We are truly honored that she turned to LaGuardia to bring her vision to life through the creation of the Cohen Career Collective.”

The $112.2 million grant is the largest donation in the history of City University of New York.

“CUNY is immensely grateful to the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation for this extraordinary gift that will have a transformational impact for LaGuardia Community College and CUNY,” CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said. “This historic $116.2 million investment multiplies CUNY’s role as an engine of upward mobility and doubles down on our commitment to helping our students not only get a degree but a well-paying job after graduation.”

The facility will include specialized shops, labs, and classrooms for hands-on instruction and training. It will also have quiet study areas, student meeting rooms, a Career Services Center, computer labs, a lecture hall, storage areas for equipment and materials, restrooms, locker rooms, mechanical rooms, electrical/data closets, and a Student Welcome Center.

In addition to career and technical training, The Cohen Career Collective will provide English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for foreign-born students who need to improve their English skills before taking vocational programs.

High-school equivalency classes will be offered to ensure that trainees obtain their GEDs, the basic credential required for most jobs. The Cohen Career Collective will also be the home of LaGuardia’s Summer Youth Employment Program, which the college runs in collaboration with the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development.

“This exceptional gift from the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation – the largest ever in CUNY’s history – will be transformational. The Cohen Career Collective will dramatically increase CUNY’s capacity to prepare students for career success and economic mobility,” said William C. Thompson, Jr., Chairman of the CUNY Board of Trustees. “LaGuardia Community College, CUNY, and New York’s economic prosperity depend on a well-educated and highly trained workforce, and this historic gift will position CUNY as the leader in workforce development.”

Students of the Cohen Career Collective will include recent high school graduates, new immigrants and asylum-seekers, students in the college’s Associate degree programs, veterans, the formerly incarcerated, workers in search of new skills and career opportunities, students with disabilities, and many others.

“I look forward to the many ways in which the Cohen Career Collective will help promote educational equity and advance LaGuardia and CUNY’s role as a driver of inclusive growth in New York,” Matos Rodríguez said.

The Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation has provided over $1.2 billion of charitable support to nonprofit organizations since its inception in 2001, including over $185 million of charitable support focused on Queens.

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