BCC Selected as Pilot Campus for CUNY CARES, an Integrated Program to Connect Students with Essential Benefits and Community Resources
Bronx Community College (BCC) was selected as a pilot program campus for CUNY CARES, a three-year initiative announced by CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez to boost academic success using an integrated approach to help students access health care, mental health treatment, food and housing assistance. The program 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.
“It is vitally important that our students at Bronx Community College who qualify for food, housing and health care benefits receive the assistance they so desperately need,” BCC Interim President Milton Santiago said. “Students can’t learn if they are hungry. Students can’t succeed if they are homeless. Students can’t thrive if they are without access to health care.”
Currently at CUNY’s three Bronx colleges – Bronx Community College, Hostos Community College and Lehman College – CUNY CARES 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.
Students Helping Students
As part of its program design, CUNY CARES hires, trains and pays student employees known as advocates and navigators to help their peers. Advocates promote health and social services resources using social media posts and classroom presentations; navigators work one-on-one to help them enroll in public benefits and access other services. In addition to assisting their peers, the students who serve in these positions gain useful employment experience.