Columbia Community Service Campaign

November 2, 2009

Dear fellow member of the Columbia community:

During the past year, so many people and institutions in our society have had to make sacrifices to cope with the economic downturn. Columbia itself has hardly been immune to the challenges of this turbulent time. Yet it is also important for us to shift our focus outward and extend a helping hand to the programs and partnerships in our community that are struggling to stay afloat in the face of decreased funding. The organizations whose services are sought after the most during a recession are all too often the ones that find themselves most affected by economic constraints. In times like these, we are reminded of our official name-Columbia University in the City of New York-and our mission to enhance the quality of life beyond our campus.

Each year, thousands of Columbia students, faculty and staff contribute their time to public service, both locally and globally. The Columbia Community Service (CCS) campaign is a testament to the importance Columbia faculty and staff place on supporting our Upper Manhattan community. Through CCS, Columbians provide assistance to an extraordinary breadth of agencies that offer health care, education and legal, technical and other services to local individuals, families and organizations. We are proud of the fact that 100 percent of your donation to the CCS Campaign goes directly to supporting the thousands of people who rely on these programs. It is especially notable that, despite the downturn, over 1,200 members of our faculty and staff generously supported last year's appeal, enabling us to award grants to 57 service agencies in our area.

This year, as the demand for vital services such as food pantries, day care, health care and after-school programs continues to rise, we are setting our contribution goals to match this increased need. On Friday, November 6, we will kick off the 2009-10 CCS campaign with an Open House in the Rotunda, Low Library, from 11:30am to 1:30pm. Everyone is invited to attend, and I encourage each of you to drop by and meet the people and organizations that provide critical assistance to our community every day.

As a strong partner in service to Upper Manhattan, Columbia is proud to join these agencies in not only meeting the basic needs of our neighbors, but also in helping to provide for the cultural enrichment, physical fitness and emotional well-being of community members. For example, the West Harlem Beacon Center offers local children the opportunity to build character and improve academic performance; the Uptown Inner City League and Figure Skating in Harlem promote both fitness and confidence; and Morningside Retirement and Health Services offers older citizens a chance to remain independent in the comfort and safety of their homes. From free English classes at Riverside Language Program to the restoration efforts of the Riverside Park Tiemann Place Volunteers, these programs are helping to enhance our community and improve the lives of the people who live and work here.

Columbia's continued excellence and growth are inextricably linked to the well-being of the city and the neighborhood we call home. Especially in this time when local non-profit groups face the twin challenges of expanding need and declining funds, I urge you to continue your generous support of the Columbia Community Service campaign, without which none of this is possible. On behalf of the CCS leadership team and those who benefit from your contributions, I offer my heartfelt thanks.


Lee C. Bollinger