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Bloomberg says he'll pitch in to expand community colleges

Announcing plans to beef up funding for the city’s community colleges, Bloomberg billed himself as the first mayor to heed President Obama’s call for greater investment in higher education.

Part of that investment may come from the mayor himself. At a press conference today at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bloomberg said that he expected most of the funding for a new community college he wants to open to come from private donations, adding that he would contribute some of his own money to the project.

His campaign plan includes flooding the city’s eight community colleges with an additional $50 million over the next four years as well as increasing the availability of existing programs, such as day care for students’ children and financial aid.

In July of this year, Obama announced a $12 billion plan to produce 5 million more community college graduates by 2020. The mayor’s plan states that it will graduate 120,000 New Yorkers by that year.

“New York City can and should lead the way in following the president’s challenge and we will,” the mayor said.

Branded as Bloomberg’s “Gateway to the Middle Class,” the plan also calls for the city to open a new two-year community college in Manhattan that will accommodate 5,000 students. The city has a grant from the Gates Foundation to study how feasible it would be to open the college, meanwhile the city is searching for money to fund the school itself.

“It’s the second major policy initiative for a reason,” said Andrea Batista Schlesinger, a campaign policy adviser. “It speaks to his commitment to jobs and education and to moving us out of the economic crisis.”

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