Low Plaza

Columbia Launches 'Neighbors' Website with News, Columbia's Links to the Community

By Lauren Marshall

 

In a move to make current information on Columbia construction projects, community services and other projects and initiatives more accessible to neighborhood residents, Columbia has launched "Information for Our Neighbors," a new website now available on the Columbia homepage.

The launch of the website is the latest in a series of efforts to foster better communication between the University and local residents and organizations.

"There is no question Columbia is a large presence in our community. We would like to play a large role as a source of information and services for our neighbors as well," said Emily Lloyd, executive vice president for administration. "With this in mind, we have developed this website, which we hope will offer quick and easy links to the information neighboring residents seek on a range of topics."

Columbia volunteers clean up local parks during Community Outreach Day.

With new University construction underway in the area surrounding campus, many residents have sought information but few have known where to obtain it. The website contains news and announcements about buildings under construction and also organizes, in one place, information on the many University programs that would be of interest to Columbia neighbors, including community service programs, cultural events and information about the economic links between the University and Upper Manhattan. The site also contains links to Columbia websites and recent Columbia reports and publications.

In the community section, visitors can find information and contacts for University programs that serve the community, including lists of University affiliated and non-affiliated day care centers and information on how to apply for a Columbia Community Service grant to help fund their organization.

The construction section offers details on University projects, including announcements of the latest construction activity, meeting advisories and information about Columbia projects given at public meetings, in addition to how to apply for a job on a construction site.

The economic impact section outlines recent initiatives that support local and traditionally underrepresented workers and businesses, includes a link to Columbia's local vendor database, a resource for University staff looking for goods and services as well as other resources.

"There is really a lot of information there," said George Goodwill, chair of Community Board 9, which represents Harlem and Morningside Heights. "I found out things about the University, like grants the University provides to community service organizations, that I didn't know about before."

In recent years, Columbia has made strengthening ties to the surrounding neighborhoods a top priority. As a developer, Columbia has taken into consideration residents' concerns about historic preservation when designing new buildings, has met with residents to discuss construction concerns and informed local community boards of building planning. A neighbor with exceptional human capital, Columbia students, faculty, staff and schools offer a range of service programs, providing everything from technical assistance for community development organizations and legal assistance for low-rent tenants, to mentoring, tutoring and day care for neighborhood residents. And because it is a major institution in Upper Manhattan with significant purchasing power, Columbia has spearheaded a number of new initiatives making it easier for the University to purchase more, spend more and hire more from local neighborhoods to positively affect the health of neighboring communities.

A Columbia student teaches a GED class.

"In the past Columbia spent a lot of energy trying to disengage itself from the city, until we realized that the city was our asset and we were a part of it. Above all we are a neighbor in the communities our facilities are housed in," said Larry Dais, assistant vice president for public affairs and director of community relations. "It is our hope that this website will help us get information on those services to the people who need it in the community and keep residents updated on issues, such as the progress of new construction, which immediately affect them. We look forward to seeing the growth and development of this site, which is now in its infancy."

Columbia is working with area community boards offices, including CBs 7, 9, 10 and 12 to bring public Internet access for residents' use. Residents without Internet access, who may be interested in information available on the website, can visit their local library or contact the Office of Community Affairs, at 854-4288, for written materials.

Quick Facts about Columbia University in the Community:

  • On average, Columbia donates more than $300,000 annually to community organizations.
  • In 2000, Columbia spent more than $40 million on goods and services in Upper Manhattan and is working to increase expenditures on the institutional and departmental levels.
  • Columbia staff sit on the boards of more than 15 civic organizations including the Association for a Greater New York, Abyssinian Development Corporation, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Corporation and the New York City Planning Commission.
  • Columbia runs some 30 educational programs that send more than 1,000 tutors and mentors into the community each year.
  • More than 10,000 New York City residents work at Columbia, New York City's 13th largest employer. Almost 40 percent of Columbia's 13,000 employees are Upper Manhattan residents.

Published: May 15, 2002
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002


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