Welcome to the Summer 2020 edition of the Hostos Community College Foundation Newsletter, and thank you for giving us your time to update you on our on-going efforts. This year has been full of unprecedented challenges, and for all of us, business is anything but usual. We have had to reimagine how to continue to meet the needs of our students, who are facing new and greater challenges than ever. We are committed to providing the support systems to help them overcome the current circumstances and achieve academic success. We are proud that this edition of the newsletter is filled with illustrations of leadership, perseverance and community during this challenging time. 

Hostos Community College and our incredible students continue to demonstrate those qualities which they exhibit at all times: they are strong, resilient, and with the support of caring individuals like you, unstoppable. Faculty and staff have gone above and beyond the call of their duties to ensure students have the resources they need—academic and otherwise. Students persisted to successfully complete the semester and our newest graduates were joyfully celebrated during the virtual commencement ceremony . The Division of Institutional Advancement (DIA) has secured nearly $1.2 million in support of the students we serve and continues to seek ways to provide additional funds, particularly for emergency needs, in these ever-changing and difficult times. Thank you for the part you play in helping Hostos and our students to move forward, together.

Fundraising Campaign
With students’ needs for emergency funding increasing rapidly during this time, Hostos Community College Foundation Chairperson, José A. Sánchez Kinghorn, is rising to the occasion –and challenges you to do the same. In our new Forward, Together campaign, the Chairperson is matching donations, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000. Every donation goes directly to our Hostos Emergency Relief Fund to provide emergency financial aid for students facing hardship. To contribute and learn more about how the Bronx and our students have been disproportionately burdened by this pandemic, please visit our giving page.

Foundation Board
Two members of the Foundation board are playing an essential role in the reopening process for our city and state. 
Dr. Amarilis Jacobo is providing her expert insight to Governor Cuomo’s New York Forward Advisory Board, charged with guiding the State’s reopening strategy. The advisory board is chaired by former secretaries to the Governor Steve Cohen and Bill Mulrow and includes more than 100 business, community and civic leaders from industries across the state. 

Serving on the advisory board is just the latest accomplishment on Dr. Jacobo’s extensive resume as a leader in the dental field. Her presence ensures that the dental profession and the Hispanic community of business owners and medical practitioners will have a voice in the state-wide reopening process.
On the municipal level, board member Cira Ángeles , President and Co-Founder of LA Riverside Brokerage, was appointed to serve on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s NYC Re-Opening Advisory Board as a member of the street transportation committee. Ángeles is the spokesperson for the Livery Base Owners Association, which represents the City’s taxi owners and operators, and has been an advocate for equitable policies benefiting riders, drivers and owners. She brings decades of leadership experience, as well as a track record of successful negotiations on behalf of the voices she represents.
The Foundation is proud of these distinguished board members for their leadership in their respective fields. To read more about their contributions and the work of the reopening committees, please visit these links:



Alumni Relations
Alumni Relations is sharing weekly stories from “Alumni on the Frontlines”—members of our thriving Hostos Community College alumni network who are rising to meet the unprecedented challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hostos family is proud to recognize those who have demonstrated a courageous and exemplary response to the needs of their communities. Regardless of their line of work, here you will learn of the leadership, resilience and passion that our Hostos alumni display as they navigate this new reality. Follow our weekly series to see how essential service professionals in a variety of fields have experienced the pandemic, and get advice about what you can do to help keep your family safe.

To read the stories and follow our weekly updates, visit Hostos Alumni on the Frontline

Corporate and Foundation Relations

Since our last newsletter, the following grants have been awarded to the Hostos Community College Foundation. 

  • Popular Foundation - $5,000 grant over one year in support of the Center for Bronx Nonprofits

  • Robin Hood Foundation - $150,000 over three months in support of student emergency grants

  • The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation - $50,000 grant over one year for general support

  • Siegel Family Endowment - $5,000 over one year in support of the Center for Bronx Nonprofits

  • The New York Yankees Foundation - $10,000 over one year in support of the Hostos Food Pantry

  • The Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation - $20,000 over one year in support of alleviating food insecurity for ours students and their families

The Hostos Community College Foundation extends its profound thanks to these organizations for their generous, impactful support.

Development News 
Institutional Advancement’s Idelsa Méndez Supports Her Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic

According to a pre-COVID survey, 83% of Hostos students reported that they lacked the money necessary to adequately feed themselves. Food insecurity is a constant weight on the shoulders of many students, and the Hostos Food Pantry was created to help students alleviate this problem. However, with the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for this vital service has increased dramatically. Division of Institutional Advancement development manager, Idelsa Méndez has led the charge to bolster these services for our students, while volunteering her time to assist with distribution. She also facilitated relationships with community partners to secure donations of:

  • More than 750 pounds of nonperishable food

  • $5,000 in gift cards to the Food Bazaar, located in Bronx Terminal Market

  • Free chef-prepared meals provided by a collaborative effort between World Central Kitchen, Bronx Community Relief Effort, Mott Haven Bar and Grill and Bronx Private Industry Council

  • Thousands of KN95 masks for essential Hostos employees and local healthcare workers

To read more about these efforts, visit: Idelsa Méndez Supports Community during COVID-19 Pandemic
Hostos Community College Foundation Secures WiFi Hotspots for Students

In April, the Hostos Community College Foundation collaborated with the College’s IT department and a major cellular service provider to provide wireless hotspots for 50 Hostos students who lacked internet connections. The Foundation approved the required funding for this endeavor so that internet-based classes, course materials, and supportive services would be made available for the next six months at no cost to the individual users.

To read more about this story, visit HCCF Secures WiFi Hotspots for Students
Hostos Community College 50th Commencement Virtual Graduation Ceremony

The 50th Commencement Ceremony for Hostos Community College denoted a momentous landmark for both our Class of 2020 and our institution. When the physical event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a disappointment to our entire college. So, with resourceful and inventive thinking, the graduation committee and IT department teamed up to create a virtual experience for our remarkable graduates.

The virtual event featured a keynote speech from Karine Jean-Pierre, Chief Public Affairs Officer for MoveOn.org and an NBC and MSNBC Political Analyst, as well as messages of encouragement from Senator Charles Schumer, CUNY Chancellor Matos Rodríguez, Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Hochul, and various faculty members and staff. The graduates were cheered by more than 6,000 supporters in this display of love and pride.

To help put the unique challenges her class faces into perspective, Valedictorian Blasina Tavarez called upon a story told by actor Will Smith about building a wall for his father’s shop. “It’s difficult to take the first step when you only focus on how big the task is,” and the analogy encouraged students to instead focus on “laying each brick” as perfectly as you possibly can. Tavarez challenges her fellow grads to take each step toward achieving their goals as carefully and as perfectly as you can, so they can all reach their greatest potential.

To watch the moving commencement ceremony, visit Spring 2020 Virtual Commencement
The Class of 2020 Valedictorian and Salutatorian

The Hostos Community College Foundation honors the Class of 2020 Valedictorian, Blasina Tavarez, and Salutatorian, Assetou Doucoure. These outstanding women represent the indelible spirit and strength of the Class of 2020. 

Valedictorian:

“Conquering my fears and my faith in God is an essential component of my success.” 

Valedictorian Blasina Tavarez’s inspiring educational journey illustrates that it is never too late to follow your dreams. She spent 25 years in the United States supporting her family and working full-time, but when her two daughters were well on their way to achieving their academic goals, she decided it was her turn. Though it had been nearly 30 years since she had been in a formal educational setting, she overcame her fears and enrolled at Hostos. Read about her Hostos experience by visiting Valedictorian Blasina Tavarez , or listen to her moving valedictorian’s speech here

Salutatorian Assetou Doucoure overcame many obstacles to earn her degree in liberal arts at Hostos. She balanced work, school, and being a mother of two, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She studied biotechnology in South Africa, and took a break when she moved to the United States 10 years ago with her husband. When she had the opportunity to continue her higher education, she decided to pursue a career as a nurse. She attributes her success to her ambition and persistence. To read more about her incredible story, visit Salutatorian Assetou Doucoure .

A Message from the Foundation 

We continue to hold you and your loved ones in our thoughts and are truly humbled by the love and support our students have received during this crisis. While the mounting challenges of this historic time serve as a stark reminder of how much work there is to be done in our community and society, it has also shown us how much can be accomplished when we come together and act. Through your support of our students, you choose action. You choose to invest in a brighter future. You tell our students that their futures, their education and their lives matter. We thank you for taking a stand.
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