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Port Authority collaborates with York College on new academy as part of $19B redevelopment of JFK Airport

Oct. 31, 2023 By Bill Parry

The Port Authority recently announced an agreement with York College in Jamaica and CUNY to launch an Aviation and Aerospace Academy as part of the $19 billion redevelopment of John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The initiative will provide an aviation-focused weekend and summer education and enrichment program in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for up to 700 students from grades 1 through 12. Additionally, the program will introduce students from communities surrounding JFK to career opportunities in aviation, airport management, and aerospace technology.

“The transformation of JFK Airport into a world-class gateway is also an opportunity to extend the benefits from this historic $19 billion investment to children and teens from the neighboring communities of Queens,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said. “By partnering with York College and the terminal developers at JFK, we are empowering students to pursue careers in the aviation industry.”

The JFKR Aviation and Aerospace Academy at York College will be conducted in three sessions throughout the year. Fall and spring sessions will be offered for four weekends, each enrolling 300 students. During the summer, 125 students will participate in a four- to six-week enrichment program.

“We are excited to collaborate with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on this important initiative,” York College President Dr. Berenecea Johnson Eanes said. “As a college, we are committed to fostering access to STEM education enrichment programs for Queens’ youth so they can explore all the possibilities that a career in aviation management offers with York’s state-of-the-art flight simulator on campus and the varied curricula that will be offered to different ages through this new academy. I am confident that we will begin to build a pipeline of future talent.”

The curriculum includes themes and hands-on activities related to aviation, science, finance, economics, mathematics, cybersecurity and computer science, drones and robotics, varying by age group. Students will be taught in four cohorts – grades 1 through 3, grades 4 and 5, grades 6 through 8 and grades 9 through 12. Students in grades 9 through 12 will receive a $1,200 stipend and will earn three college credits during the summer session. The summer session will be five days a week for four to six weeks, depending on grade.

“We look forward to opening doors to the future, not just to our customers, but to the local young women and men who will be able to achieve a career in aviation thanks to the STEM program at York College,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “With ongoing redevelopment at our airports, it is critical that the Port Authority continue to invest in talent from the surrounding communities to help our neighbors take part in the opportunities that these new facilities will present.”

For more information on the academy, including eligibility requirements, interested parents and students should visit: york.cuny.edu/aviation-and-aeronautics-academy. The fall 2023 session will begin on Nov. 18, with applications accepted now through Nov. 6.

The Port Authority’s $19 billion JFK redevelopment project is building new state-of-the-art terminals and career paths for the youth of southeast Queens in collaboration with York College.Courtesy of Port Authority

“The establishment of the new aviation and aerospace academy as a part of the JFK redevelopment program serves as a milestone for the advancement of STEM exposure to our youth,” U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks said. “This initiative not only symbolizes a commitment to excellence, but also serves as a launchpad for the dreams and aspirations of countless students within our communities. This program brings with it the promise of igniting the passion for engineering and technology in the hearts of students. By providing three sessions throughout the year, students will engage in hands-on activities related to aviation, science, finance, and much more. The academy is certainly poised to shape the next generation of STEM leaders.”

Meeks co-chairs the JFK Redevelopment Community Advisory Council with Queens Borough President Donovan Richards which includes elected officials, community boards, business and nonprofit organizations, civic organizations and clergy leaders from the targeted local communities of southeast Queens.

“The redevelopment of Kennedy Airport is all about opportunity, including giving Queens’ young people the opportunity to engage with the aviation industry as early as possible,” Richards said. “As this historic airport redevelopment project takes flight and the aviation industry continues to soar in the ‘World’s Borough,’ this program ensures our students are ready for the jobs of today and tomorrow — that’s what investment in our future looks like.”

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams expanding opportunities that benefit the residents, small businesses, and communities surrounding JFK remains a critical component and priority of the redevelopment program.

“I’m thrilled that through the launch of the Aviation and Aeronautics Academy at York College, 700 students will have access to STEM programs each year,” Adams said. “Creating pathways to careers in the aviation and aeronautics industries are particularly meaningful because Queens is home to New York City’s two airports, and this pipeline will support their growth and success. I encourage all of our young scholars to participate in this new program and look forward to its impact on our southeast Queens communities.”

The Port Authority’s $19 billion JFK redevelopment project is building new state-of-the-art terminals and career paths for the youth of southeast Queens in collaboration with York College.Courtesy of Port Authority

State Sen. Leroy Comnrie added that the new JFK Redevelopment Aviation & Aeronautics Academy at York College is long awaited and welcomed as part of the Port Authority’s commitment to local community development.

“The borough of Queens is home to thousands of brilliant young scholars, now given a chance to gain exposure to a wide variety of academic and career pursuits,” he said. “I am pleased to see this collaboration with JFK and York College/CUNY finally come to fruition.”

Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman called it a significant step for the community.

“This initiative will contribute to the development of the next generation by offering specialized education and enrichment opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math,” Hyndman said. “It is encouraging to see the launch of such a program that will support and empower the youth in the community.”

Council Member Nantasha Williams said she is excited about the Aviation and Aeronautics Academy.

“The boundless opportunities it offers to students in grades 1-12, exposing them to careers in aviation, are truly inspiring. This initiative is more than just an educational program; it’s a gateway to a future filled with endless possibilities,” Williams said. “I believe it will not only transform the lives of our students but also positively impact the entire Queens community, by fostering innovation and knowledge on the lives of our young learners.”

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