CUNY SPH Foundation awarded grant from BNY Mellon to launch Career Skills Academy for public health students

Jan. 6, 2021
smiling CUNY SPH students

The CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) Foundation received a $250,000 grant from BNY Mellon to launch an enhanced career services initiative which will provide aspiring public health professionals with the skills needed to secure employment and thrive in the workplace.

This grant represents the third largest gift in the CUNY SPH Foundation’s history.

“We are profoundly grateful to BNY Mellon for their generosity and partnership in helping our students gain access to world-class career training,” said CUNY SPH Dean Ayman El-Mohandes. “Ensuring that our public health students have the skills needed to be competitive in the job market and successful in the workforce is critical for the city, state, and country’s public health infrastructure.”

“There are no students more deserving for this preparation than CUNY SPH students,” El-Mohandes continued. “BNY Mellon values education, workforce development and supporting public health. We could not be more grateful for their partnership as we prepare students to tackle the pandemic and post-pandemic challenges,”

BNY Mellon has developed a strong relationship with the City University of New York with recent grants to bolster graduation rates among high-achieving low-income students in STEM or finance-related fields at CUNY’s senior colleges. This latest grant reinforces BNY Mellon’s commitment to building the workforce of the future and reinforces the ability of public health professionals to achieve upward mobility.

Creating Career Pathways Through Skills-building

A recent survey and series of focus groups conducted among CUNY SPH students and alumni revealed that 78% worked full or part-time while obtaining or seeking to obtain their MPH. Of those currently enrolled, 14% reported losing their employment due to COVID-19 and an additional 10% reported being on furlough currently or during the initial months of the pandemic. In further qualitative surveys, many respondents shared that, while they felt highly prepared for a career in public health in terms of their discipline-specific skills and knowledge, they did not feel as if they had the skills to successfully navigate a job search and secure a new position or to navigate the workplace confidently and effectively.

Powered by BNY Mellon, CUNY SPH will launch a first-of-its-kind approach to building career skills within a school or program of public health through a new workforce readiness program. The Career Skills Academy will train students in the skills needed to compete for and earn high demand jobs and provide them with the qualities needed to navigate common workplace issues. Open to all students but geared towards those who may not have had access to career-building opportunities earlier in their educational careers and who have been unemployed or underemployed, the Career Skills Academy will focus on career preparation through a skills-building curriculum featuring a dual-module program: “earn the job” and “thrive in the job.”

One hundred CUNY SPH students will enroll into an extracurricular program over the next two years to build a new set of skills through lectures, peer-engaged activities, and the opportunity to learn from senior executives in the non-profit, private, and government sectors. As part of a “Public Health Master Class” series, students will understand the real world uses and implications of their new skills from the perspectives of leaders from a variety of sectors and backgrounds.

“CUNY SPH students are going to shape and design what a healthy city looks like in this century,” remarked Lyndon Haviland, CUNY SPH Foundation Board Chairman and public health advocate. “Our alumni have an incredible power to drive forward public health policies and practices that advance social justice efforts in all levels of the workforce. Our students bring with them their life experiences from New York City’s communities. They understand public health better than anyone else does. Investing in skills-building opportunities for them will fuel a healthier and more economically viable community for all.”

“BNY Mellon is a fantastic partner to CUNY and CUNY SPH,” Haviland added. “They understand the value of investing in public health students. Now more than ever, this investment is needed.”

The Career Success Academy is hiring a Program Director with a target start date in February 2021. This individual will build and implement the curriculum, coordinate student recruitment, and oversee all functional operations. Please find the job description and application instructions here.

“In the first three years of the foundation’s operations, we have raised nearly $3 million to date, and $1.5 million of which provides direct benefit to students through scholarship, fellowship and emergency support,” said Adam Doyno, Executive Director of the CUNY SPH Foundation. “BNY Mellon’s grant to the CUNY SPH Foundation will allow us to fulfill on our focus area of workforce readiness.”

“Supporting our students with professional growth opportunities will benefit our city and public health,” Doyno added. “These are skills that they can use for years to come.”


The CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) is committed to teaching, research, and service that creates a healthier New York City and helps promote equitable, efficient, and evidence-based solutions to pressing health problems facing cities around the world. Located in Harlem, CUNY SPH is the top-ranked public school of public health in New York City, New York State and the tristate region.

About the CUNY SPH Foundation

The CUNY SPH Foundation’s mission is to advance the achievement of CUNY SPH’s mission, vision and values as New York City’s public school of public health through fundraising, building strategic partnerships and providing services as a champion for the school’s students as they embark on public health careers and its faculty as they work to educate the next generation of public health professionals.

For more information, contact:

Barbara Aaron