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Columbia expansion throughout Harlem update

Cyril Josh Barker | 10/24/2013, 11:13 a.m.
As Columbia University continues its 20-year development and building of its Manhattanville campus in West Harlem, the Ivy League school ...
Columbia University

As Columbia University continues its 20-year development and building of its Manhattanville campus in West Harlem, the Ivy League school recently released a publication updating the community on progress, along with its benefits and services.

The publication, titled “Growing Together: An Update on Community Services, Amenities and Benefits of Columbia University’s Manhattanville Campus in West Harlem,” provides an update on construction progress as well as information about many of the programs and services under the Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions and the West Harlem Community Benefits Agreement.

Columbia and the local community have joined together to improve the quality of health, education, culture and civic life in Upper Manhattan through various programs. Columbia’s expansion covers the Manhattanville industrial zone, which includes four blocks: West 124th Street to 129th Street between Broadway and 12th Avenue, and Broadway from West 131st Street to 134th Street.

From 2008 to July 2013, over $24.4 million has been spent on the area for programs, including the Affordable Housing Fund, job training and the West Harlem Piers Park. The West Harlem Development Corporation is a partner with Columbia on how funds should be best spent. A total of $150 million is being spent on community needs.

In a recent interview with the AmNews, Executive Vice President for Columbia’s Office of Government and Community Affairs and Special Advisor for Campus Planning Maxine Griffith outlined some of the community benefits. Griffith said that while Columbia is offering several programs and services to the Manhattanville community, some have been especially beneficial to local residents, such as the various educational programs.

“We are particularly excited about our Community Scholars Program,” Griffith said. “This allows community residents to benefit from the resources and courses at Columbia. This is all about opening the campus and allowing the community to take advantage of our resources.”

Local teachers are also getting even more education through scholarships for educators.

Another program is a program for disconnected youth who are not in school. The outreach program allows for youth to earn a GED and obtain employment.

Elderly and disabled residents have been taking advantage of the shuttle bus service that is also offered by Columbia. The shuttle takes passengers to the nearest accessible subway stop.

In an effort to get the word out about Columbia’s community services, newsletters are sent out along with advertising in community newspapers. Mass emails are also sent, and a monthly meeting is held with the West Harlem Development Corporation.

“We are very proud of these programs, and we are not shy about telling people about the programs,” Griffith said.

This fall, a job fair being hosted to not only focus on specific careers, but also job readiness. Columbia operates an employment center at West 125th Street and Broadway.