LaGuardia CARES Matches Students with Benefits, Services Needed to Persevere During Pandemic and Beyond
Student Resource Provides Access to Pantries and Other Food Security Resources, Health Care, Housing, Legal and Financial Assistance
To Help Students Meet the Challenges of COVID-19, LaGuardia CARES Aids Students Through Supermarket Gift Cards, Home Deliveries, Direct Deposits
February 1, 2021
When Saidat Ogunyele was laid off from her job as a home-care provider in April, the second-year LaGuardia Community College student turned to LaGuardia CARES, a one-stop, poverty-fighting program that connects students to life-changing resources, referrals and local community services to help them remain on a path to graduation.
One of the benefits that Ogunyele, a first-generation college student and immigrant from Nigeria, received took the form of a gift card, which she used to buy basic-need items for her two young daughters.
“I cannot hide my excitement,” Ogunyele wrote in an email to the LaGuardia CARES program director Rhonda Mouton. “To all those involved in this charity — may God pave the way for you where there seems to be no way.”
Ogunyele is one of thousands of students at the City University of New York who has greatly benefited from an initiative designed to meet the evolving needs of students and which provides an array of remote and in-person services that include access to pantries and help applying for food stamps and housing assistance; financial and tax preparation assistance, and other services newly incorporated to address issues created by the pandemic.
To address an increase in the number of students who lost their jobs and needed financial assistance, LaGuardia Community College’s College Access for Retention and Economic Success (CARES) has distributed $5,000 worth of gift cards to students and helped them to enroll for health benefits. Program Director Rhonda Mouton estimates that CARES has helped 45 students to save a combined $900,000 in legal fees since March; in that time, 20 students were also able to save a combined $240,000 in healthcare costs, and 91 students saved more than $725,000 in financial fees. LaGuardia’s food pantry has also served nearly 2,100 individuals. Since the pandemic began, CARES has delivered food and other provisions directly to student-parents in their homes.
• • • •
LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), located in Long Island City, Queens, educates thousands of New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs . LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all U.S. college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high quality, affordable college education.