CUNY’s Institute for Mexican Studies at Lehman College Wins $ 1 Million City Council Award
By SÍLE MOLONEY
The CUNY Mexican Studies Institute (MSI), located at Lehman College, celebrates its 10e year with a significant new investment from local legislators. In July, the institute received a funding allocation of $ 1 million from the New York City Council to support its work.
CUNY MSI is one of only two research centers in the northeastern country dedicated to Mexican and Mexican-American studies. College officials say that, as part of its mission, the institute is also working to increase enrollment of Mexican and Mexican-American students at CUNY and is working with international and local organizations to empower Mexican immigrants from the city and those interested in the Mexican diaspora.
José Higuera López, deputy director of CUNY MSI, said the seven-figure funding allocation, included in the city council’s budget for fiscal year 2022, will help the institute plan not only for the months ahead, but for the next five years. Referring to the funding as a “milestone,” he noted that the price is four times the amount CUNY MSI received from city council just three years ago.
“This award reflects the city’s commitment to equity and promoting growth,” said Higuera López. “It also sends a strong message that the Institute for Mexican Studies is fully supported.”
CUNY MSI encourages research projects, administers the Mexican Studies Archives and Library, and sponsors conferences, workshops, seminars and publications. It also partners with the New York Legal Assistance Group to support undocumented youth protected by the Deferred Action Program for Child Arrivals, and immigrants seeking citizenship, green card renewal, visas and assistance in filing deportation and asylum applications.
According to Higuera López, CUNY MSI’s immediate goals include establishing an oral history project on the contributions of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in New York City. The institute also plans to expand its free support services for Spanish-speaking New Yorkers, which include business and entrepreneurship training.
Founded in February 2012, CUNY MSI entered its 10th fiscal year in July and recently announced the appointment of a new director, Juan J. DelaCruz, associate professor of economics and business at Lehman College and associate faculty member at the CUNY Graduate School. public health and health policy. His two-year term begins on August 25.
As it marks a decade of service, the institute is among the busiest it has ever been. Higuera López said the institute served more than 48,000 New Yorkers in the first three quarters of 2021, more than three times the total number it served in 2019 (16,000).
The increase in funding was championed by Brooklyn City Councilor Carlos Menchaca, who represents the Sunset Park District and is chair of the City Council Committee on Immigration. Menchaca became new York state first Mexican-Elected American in 2013, and he and Higuera López have worked closely together in recent years.
Referring to funding, Menchaca said: “It was extremely important for me to fight for this funding because representation matters,” adding that the increase puts the institute on an equal footing with other major cultural institutes. of CUNY. “The Mexican CUNY Institute tells our story and showcases the important contributions we have made to this great city,” he said.
In addition, Higuera López said the institute has also awarded around $ 1 million in scholarships, raised through private fundraisers, to more than 250 CUNY students over the past decade, regardless of the immigration status of students.
“For us, the main goal is to bring students to CUNY and show them that Lehman offers more than a degree,” said Higuera López. He added that the institute also promotes various course offerings available through Lehman’s School of Continuing Professional Studies, including ESL courses, healthcare and OSHA certifications, as well as the technology hub. and the small business incubator.
“The more people come to campus, the more they can imagine themselves being on campus and seeing that education is achievable,” he said. “Promoting access to education is the first step towards upward mobility.
To learn more about the institute’s offerings, including a series of events held to celebrate its 10th anniversary, visit the institute’s website or follow it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.