College savings program for elementary students in western Queens public schools receives $70,000 donation

More than 1,900 students in kindergarten, first, second and third grade across five public schools in Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and Corona will receive a $70,000 investment in their educational futures through a college savings program. NYC Kids RISE, a nonprofit working to expand economic opportunity and equity through education savings, and MetLife Foundation announced the $70,000 investment for the western Queens students enrolled in the NYC Kids Rise Save for College Program.

College Savings Accounts for All NYC Kids

Given the unprecedented day-to-day challenges and historic unemployment rates our city faces, many New Yorkers tried to end 2020 with as much of their fragile savings intact as possible. It seems beyond the imagination in this new year of challenges to think about saving for your children’s college education. However, it is just that kind of “I’ll think about that tomorrow” thinking that jeopardizes the ability of children to indeed attend college when they come of age. And it is just that kind of thinking that inspired me when I served as commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs to create and drive the launch for the city of the first of its kind public-private partnership, NYC Kids RISE, a city college savings program that works in collaboration with New York State’s 529 College Savings Program.

New York City Students Get Early Assist in Saving for College

NYC Kids RISE program is helping more than 10,000 students in schools in western Queens with funds. Students in the area—which includes a large immigrant population and many low-income households—are automatically enrolled in the program when they start kindergarten, receiving $100 in a program-operated college-savings account, known as a 529, along with opportunities for additional money. Families can also receive help in opening separate accounts that provide tax-free savings and withdrawals for higher education. The two savings accounts can be used together.

Former Teach for America Executive Director Charissa L. Fernández Joins Gray Foundation

Charissa L. Fernández, former Executive Director of Teach for America – New York (TFA-NY) joined the Gray Foundation as a Senior Advisor. Ms. Fernández will lead the organization’s Scholarship Programs, support the NYC Youth Portfolio and contribute to the Foundation’s organizational development. “Charissa’s deep experience in the non-profit sector – particularly in education – will be a powerful addition to our Foundation as we seek new ways to support low-income youth in New York City,” said Mindy and Jon Gray.

CUNY Chancellor’s Emergency Relief Fund to Aid Students Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic Grows by 70 Percent Since April Launch

Generosity of foundations, corporations And individual donors enables University to help 6,000 students, more than half of them undocumented students who were excluded from Federal CARES Act relief. The City University of New York’s Chancellor’s Emergency Relief Fund, established in the spring to help students facing financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, has grown by more than $2.25 million, or 70 percent, surpassing $5.5 million in contributions, and awarded $500 grants to 6,000 CUNY students thus far, with funds on hand to help more than 5,000 additional students in coming months.

Mayor de Blasio, with Support from Philanthropic Community, Announces Summer Bridge Program to Serve Thousands of New York Teens

Mayor de Blasio today announced SYEP Summer Bridge 2020, a $51M public-private partnership that will provide constructive engagement and enrichment activities to keep 35,000 New York City youth active and productive this summer. Beginning in late July, the program will engage teens in a series of career exploration and project-based learning activities that will help them build their skills and prepare them for their next steps in the fall. “In this challenging time, ensuring that NYC youth have opportunities to work and learn this summer is critical.  We are proud to be part of this public-private partnership and to support Summer Bridge’s mission of enabling young New Yorkers to explore careers, lead projects and engage in civic opportunities,” said Mindy and Jon Gray.  

Building a Financial Foundation for Our Children’s Future on 529 Day

In the face of profound economic hardship and uncertainty, families and school communities across one of the most diverse and hardest-hit areas of our city are coming together today in recognition of their collective work to build a financial foundation for their children’s futures. 529 Day, named after 529 college savings plans, which are investment accounts specifically designed for college and career savings, is an annual opportunity to build community around preparing for college and career training. This year’s 529 Day comes as New York City’s communities — particularly its low-income communities, communities of color, and immigrant communities — are bearing the brunt of a public health and economic crisis like nothing we have seen in our lifetimes.  

Catalyzing Collaborations in Cancer Research

About 1 in 400 people in the U.S. carry mutations in the BRCA1 gene, the BRCA2 gene, or both—genetic variations that can dramatically increase their chances of developing breast, ovarian, prostate, or pancreatic cancers. With a $3 million grant from the Gray Foundation, Joan Brugge, PhD and a team of colleagues from HMS, its affiliate hospitals, and other labs around the world will use various technologies to investigate the minute changes that take place within cells on the road from health to tumorigenesis. If researchers could identify and track these changes, they could precisely time double mastectomies—interventions that practically eliminate the risk of breast cancer in these women—or, eventually, develop strategies that interfere with these processes to stymie tumor progression.  

More Than Ever, Summer Is For School: A Coronavirus Imperative

As we stay home and keep ourselves and our families healthy and safe, students — and colleges — must use this time to socially distance productively. Toward that end, Hunter is planning to offer the most diverse menu of summer courses in its history, featuring top scholars, teachers and practitioners, so students can turn a lost season into a productive one. At the same time, recognizing that many students will be unable to secure summer jobs to help pay for their education, Hunter is working to make summer offerings more affordable. To date, we have raised more than $300,000 from generous donors like Jonathan and Mindy Gray. It has provided nearly 500 students with funds to help shore up their financial situations.

Investing in New York City’s Future

Across every borough, neighborhood, and community in NYC, families are united behind one wish: that their children will have the access and opportunity to fulfill their dreams. Making this wish a reality, however, is more complicated. To bridge the gap of what’s possible for NYC’s youth, we need meaningful collaboration among government, the private sector, philanthropy, and local communities to provide actual funding and support to increase college and career-training access. We need a universal college savings system for every student. In Queens, the NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program, every kindergartener over the past three years has automatically received an NYC Scholarship Account with a $100 initial deposit.

The Biggest Philanthropic Gifts Of 2019

Forbes tallied the biggest reported charitable gifts and pledges made in 2019. Some sub-$100-million gifts and pledges that made headlines for their potential impact include Blackstone president Jonathan Gray’s $25 million donation to tackle breast cancer.

University of Pennsylvania announces $10M gift from alumni Mindy and Jon Gray to support first generation students from NYC

In recognition of Mindy and Jon Gray’s philanthropy, Penn will annually select an outstanding cohort of 10 students from New York City accepted to any of Penn’s four undergraduate schools who qualify for the highest level of financial aid and for the benefits available through the Penn First Plus program. These students will receive grants that cover the full tuition and expenses associated with attending Penn. The gift is emblematic of the Gray’s mission to maximize access to education, healthcare and opportunity for low income children in NYC.

Nina Garcia Honored At Basser Center Gala For Cancer Research

After a public preventative double mastectomy earlier this year, ELLE’s own Editor-in-Chief Nina Garcia accepted an honor “not for myself, but for all of the women who are not as fortunate as I am, the women who didn’t have access to genetic counseling, insurance, or a support system…This is for my sisters everywhere.”A video played in Spanish of the Project Runway judge emphasizing the new LATINX x BRCA initiative Basser started this year to educate the Latinx community about BRCA-related cancers. According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women, who are more likely to be diagnosed with later stage cancers.

Blackstone Leaders Ignore Politics for a Night to End Cancer

The Basser Jean Bash raised more than $8.5 million for BRCA research. Jon and Mindy Gray founded the Basser Center for BRCA at the University of Pennsylvania seven years ago to focus on the gene mutations that increase risk for breast, ovarian and other BRCA-related cancers. The Grays have given $55 million, and Blackstone colleagues have chipped in more, to fund research that has led to FDA-approved therapies prolonging life and pay for genetic counseling that has helped families navigate medical decisions.


Event in Manhattan raises over $8.5 million for research on BRCA-related cancers

An event in Lower Manhattan Monday night raised more than $8.5 million for research on BRCA-related cancers.  Eyewitness News reporter and cancer survivor Stacey Sager proudly took part in the Basser Jean Bash at Cipriani Wall Street.  The event raised money for The Basser Center for BRCA at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center which is making great progress in the fight against the genetic mutations that cause some breast and ovarian cancers.  

Basser Center takes aim at BRCA

Twenty-five years after the discovery of genetic mutations that dramatically increase cancer risk, Penn Medicine’s Basser Center for BRCA is building scientific knowledge alongside public awareness about BRCA-related cancers.

Dr. Lewis Cantley Awarded Grant from Gray Foundation

Dr. Lewis Cantley, the Meyer Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine, has been awarded a grant from the Gray Foundation to study the genetic mutations that can lead to breast and ovarian cancer, investigating how early-stage precancerous cells can be recognized by the immune system and targeted with preventive or therapeutic cancer vaccines.

Jonathan and Mindy Gray Give $25 million for Breast and Ovarian Cancer Research

Jonathan and Mindy Gray have given $25 million through their foundation for research on genetic mutations that can lead to breast and ovarian cancer. The money will be shared by seven multidisciplinary research teams at the Cleveland Clinic, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Weill Cornell Medicine, and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Yale Cancer Center receives $1 million grant from Gray Foundation for breast cancer research

Yale Cancer Center (YCC) is proud to announce the Basser BRCA Initiative grant. The $1 million, three-year gift was awarded to YCC by the Gray Foundation to advance the next generation of cancer therapies. Leveraging research currently being done at Yale to define the fundamental biology and molecular roles of the BRCA cancer susceptibility genes, this gift from the Gray Foundation will enable the development of transformative new therapeutic approaches for patients with BRCA-driven malignancies, which can increase the lifetime risk for cancers including breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate and melanoma.  

City program announced in LIC lets public school parents help save for college education

The NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program has announced that savings of up to $100 will be matched for participating first-grade families. Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza joined students, parents, faculty and elected officials last week for the first Building Block Party to celebrate the savings match. The gathering at P.S. 76 in Long Island City included coloring for the kids and an opportunity for everyone to share savings tips.

Susan Domcheck, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA, elected to the National Academy of Medicine

Four faculty members from the Perelman School of Medicine have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), one of the nation’s highest honors in biomedicine. Susan M. Domchek is the Basser Professor in Oncology, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA at the Abramson Cancer Center, director of the MacDonald Women’s Cancer Risk Evaluation Center, and a senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. She is a nationally recognized breast and ovarian cancer expert.

Blackstone COO Jonathan Gray On Giving To Education, Cancer Research

Jonathan Gray has had a good 2018: in February, the former head of Blackstone’s $119 billion (assets) real estate division was promoted to chief operating officer and president, 26 years after he started at the private equity giant.  But his accomplishments are not only in business; Gray is also making his mark in philanthropy. He debuts at No. 49 on Forbes’ America’s Top 50 Givers list, having doled out $23 million in charitable donations in 2017. In total, he has given over $120 million in his lifetime, primarily to cancer research and health and education in New York City.


Meet Potamkin Prize Awardee, Susan Domchek, M.D.

We are thrilled to announce that Dr. Susan Domchek, Director of the Basser Center for BRCA at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center, is the PA Breast Cancer Coalition’s 2018 Potamkin Prize Awardee. Please enjoy this video featuring Dr. Domcheck and the amazing work she has done to advance the care of individuals with BRCA gene mutations.

PBS Announces KEN BURNS PRESENTS THE GENE: AN INTIMATE HISTORY, New Collaboration with Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D. Three-Hour Documentary to Premiere Spring 2020 on PBS

PBS announced KEN BURNS PRESENTS THE GENE: AN INTIMATE HISTORY, a new three-hour documentary executive produced by Ken Burns, will premiere over three nights in Spring 2020 on PBS.  Pulitzer Prize-winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., and acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns will collaborate on the new documentary inspired by Mukherjee’s best-selling 2016 book, The Gene: An Intimate History.


Thousands of NYC teens explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art at interactive event

Twice each year, the Gray Foundation partners with the Metropolitan Museum of Art to produce Teens Take The Met! – an innovative, teen-centric evening dedicated to art and culture. More than 40 New York City youth and cultural organizations come together to provide interactive programming including workshops, performances, art making, demonstrations, photography, and more for thousands of teens from across the city’s five boroughs. The event is made possible through the Gray Foundation, who serve as the singular sponsor for this year’s event, held Friday, June 1st from 5-8pm. The event is free for all teens with a valid middle or high school ID.