The City University of New York (CUNY) has announced the launch of CUNY CARES, a three-year pilot program designed to boost academic success by using an integrated approach to help students access health care, mental health treatment, food and housing assistance. The initiative pays students to conduct outreach to fellow classmates who may qualify for services such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Medicaid – and make sure they sign up.
The program, which is currently at CUNY’s three Bronx colleges – Bronx Community College, Hostos Community College and Lehman College – could potentially bring in millions of dollars in government aid to students who are eligible but not receiving the benefits. In the Bronx, for example, signing up the estimated 7,200 students at the three campuses who are eligible but not enrolled would bring an additional $25.1 million into their household budgets. The program is also designed to help students access health care and mental health counseling through community- and campus-based providers.
“It is hard to learn and complete a degree when you are worried about paying for food, housing and health care, and CUNY CARES is helping our students secure essential services that will enable them to more easily focus on their academic and life goals,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “CUNY’s integrated approach, which leverages our expertise with peer-to-peer student relationships and productive partnerships with local governmental agencies and community-based organizations, aims to build an all-encompassing system of support. We hope that it will become a model not only for other CUNY colleges, but for universities across the country.”