Successful initiative launched in 2006 by the Borough President focuses new attention on neighborhood-based planning
Serving Students from the Region’s Planning Schools, CUNY/Hunter College to host expanded program with support of Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit
October 21, 2009 (New York, NY) – Today, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer was joined by Commissioner Nazli Parvizi of the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit, Senior Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson of the City University of New York (CUNY), and elected officials citywide to announce the Community Planning Fellowship Program, launched four years ago by Borough President Stringer, is now branching out beyond Manhattan.
Stringer created the Community Planning Fellowship Program when he took office in 2006 to support community-based planning activities by Manhattan’s twelve community boards. Each fall, the program places top urban planning graduate students in the offices of community boards to work on pressing planning concerns such as zoning, development and quality of life. In addition to urban planning students, the fellowship is open to students of architecture, urban design, historic preservation, real estate development, and other urban disciplines.
With assistance from the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit and CUNY, the fellowship program, which has been based in the Borough President Stringer’s planning office, will be administered through Hunter College’s Department of Urban Affairs and Planning and expanded to include community boards from all boroughs. The program will continue to serve students from all of the region’s planning schools: City University of New York (Hunter College and City College), Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Milano The New School University, New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, Pratt Institute and Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.
Borough President Stringer said, “With all that my office has accomplished since becoming Borough President, I can honestly say that the Community Planning Fellowship Program is one of our proudest achievements to date. Not only has the Program focused new attention on what should be the primary role of community boards – neighborhood-based planning – but it has also helped shift the focus of a new generation of professional urban planners toward a real understanding of how community members, local government and land use experts interact and engage in discussions about the future shape of our city”.
Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit Commissioner Nazli Parvizi said, “We are pleased to support the expansion of the Community Planning Fellowship Program. This is a creative approach to both strengthening community boards and promoting civic engagement among the city’s future urban planners.”
CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson said, “We commend Borough President Stringer for his leadership in helping to grow more opportunities for college students to contribute their talents and energies to urban planning and the improvement of city life. CUNY is very pleased to be counted as a founding partner in this important initiative.”
Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab said, “Hunter is pleased and proud to administer this program through its renowned Department of Urban Affairs and Planning. New York is a city of neighborhoods and Borough President Stringer’s initiative to strengthen planning at the community level is a major contribution to our city’s quality of life.”
This year, Brooklyn community boards are benefiting from the fellowship program for the first time. Brooklyn’s Community Board 2 (Downtown Brooklyn/Fort Greene) and Community Board 6 (Park Slope/Red Hook) will be assisted by planning students from NYU and Columbia, respectively. The goal is to have the community planning fellowship program available to all 59 city wide community boards by the fall of 2010.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said, “I commend Borough President Stringer on the expansion of this worthy program. Community boards are truly the heart and soul of municipal government in Brooklyn and New York City. As we know, Brooklyn’s 18 community boards like their counterparts citywide perform critical charter-mandated duties on shoestring budgets, which is why I continue to advocate for more funding and resources, especially when it comes to technical aspects like zoning and planning. In that spirit, Brooklyn’s boards certainly welcome the Community Planning Fellowship Program, which provides great opportunities for students to do meaningful work and helps our boards plan and zone effectively for the future—providing for local economic growth while maintaining our neighborhoods’ health, safety and unique ambiance.”
Council Member Letitia James said, “I am thrilled that Community Board 2 has received the placement of an urban planning graduate student through the Community Planning Fellowship Program, sponsored by Manhattan Borough President Scott Springer. I know first hand the benefits of working with progressive and enthusiastic students, specifically from CUNY, as one of my staff members is an alumnus of Hunter College's Department of Urban Affairs and Planning. My office looks forward to partnering with CB2 and their new fellow this school year.”
Brooklyn Community Board 2 District Manager Robert Perris said, “Brooklyn Community Board 2 is grateful to Borough President Stringer for extending this resource across the East River. Galin Brooks, our fellow for 2009-2010, will enable us to write a more quantitative and comprehensive statement of district needs, a City Charter-mandated annual report that guides budget and other planning decisions in the community district.”
Brooklyn Community Board 6 District Manager Craig R. Hammerman said, "In a city of 8 million people it's refreshing to see there's no shortage of talented young planners who can make significant contributions to communities like ours. We were so envious of our colleagues in Manhattan, who had benefited from this program for the past few years. Brooklyn Community Board 6 is thrilled to have the opportunity to participate, and deeply appreciate being invited by the Mayor's Community Assistance Unit and Manhattan Borough President's Office to be included in the program's expansion. Besides, we can't let Manhattan have all the fun, can we?"
The fellowship program is designed to engage outstanding second-year graduate planning students in public service and to provide practical educational experience. The fellowship program has a dual purpose: (1) to enhance the capacity of community boards to undertake planning activities, and (2) to impart an acute appreciation of local government and the community perspective to the next generation of professional planners. The fellowship program includes topical seminars, workshops in planning skills, and technical guidance from professional planners.
Under the fellowship program’s requirements, each fellow works 15 hours per week at one community board. Fellows are engaged in a variety of planning activities depending on the wide-ranging needs and priorities of the boards. Project assignments may focus on physical planning, policy research, problem-solving day-to-day matters or longer-term service delivery concerns, and public outreach. The fellowship program carries through both semesters of the academic year, and provides each fellow with a $5,000 stipend.
The Community Planning Fellowship Program has been funded in part through generous grants by the Fund for the City of New York, New York Community Trust, Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 42nd Street Development Fund, and Community Preservation Corporation. The Fund for the City of New York also provides the fellowship program with key administrative support through its Incubator Program.
Thirty seven fellows have graduated from Borough President Stringer’s Community Planning Fellowship Program and have gone on to work in all areas of government and public service, as well as the private sector.
Council Member Dan Garodnick said, "I have seen the tremendous value that Planning Fellows have brought to the East Side of Manhattan, and now Community Boards across the boroughs will get the same benefit," "This is a program that empowers Community Boards and enhances their ability to continue serving residents at the neighborhood level. I congratulate Borough President Stringer for launching this program and taking it citywide."
Council Member Democratic Candidate in Manhattan District 10 Ydanis Rodriguez said, “I praise the Borough President’s leadership for empowering our community boards by providing urban planners who provide much needed expertise on complex land-use matters”
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