The City University of New York (CUNY) received a $5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to expand the Black, Race and Ethnic Studies (BRES) initiative, which aims to advance racial and social justice initiatives across CUNY’s 25 campuses, according to a CUNY news release.

The grant from the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities since 1969 will help CUNY launch the state’s first graduate degree program in BRES.

“Amid a nationwide effort to undermine the very concept of diversity and inclusion, the new graduate program in Black, Race, and Ethnic Studies will provide a much-needed resource to drive social change, open new avenues of opportunity for our students and sustain CUNY’s mission to uplift New York’s most underserved communities,” CUNY chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez said in the news release.

The five-year grant will provide $2.3 million to support incoming doctoral students and $2.7 to hire new faculty members. CUNY is one of 95 grantees awarded funding to support race, ethnic, gender and sexuality studies.

Based out of the CUNY Graduate Center, the BRES doctorate program will provide graduate students with a series of multidisciplinary BRES seminars in addition to curriculum requirements for a humanities or social science discipline of their choice. The Graduate Center will also offer a master’s degree in BRES.

CUNY’s BRES Initiative launched in 2020 with a $10 million Mellon Foundation grant. In 2023, the BRES Collaboration Hub was formed to match professors with graduate students interested in relevant interdisciplinary research in BRES.

“In our increasingly diverse nation, there is an urgent need for scholars and thinkers who are experts in Black, Race and Ethnic Studies,” said Joshua Brumberg, the interim president of the CUNY Graduate Center. “The Mellon Foundation’s generous, ongoing support positions the CUNY Graduate Center to create multidisciplinary doctoral and master’s programs that draw on the vast intellectual strengths of CUNY faculty and prepare students to lead change in higher education and all aspects of society.”

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