The Helen Gurley Brown Trust has announced a $15 million gift to the New York Public Library to establish NYPL BridgeUp, an educational and anti-poverty afterschool program for at-risk youth in New York City.
The gift from the legendary Cosmopolitan editor, who passed away in 2012, and her late husband, David, will enable the program to serve more than two hundred and fifty middle and high school students annually at five branch library locations in underserved neighborhoods in Manhattan and the Bronx. Students in each cohort will be organized into groups of ten and, over the five-year duration of the program, will receive special mentoring and support from a Helen Gurley Brown Fellow — a recent college graduate with a background in education and leadership experience — with the goal of preparing them for college or technical school. At a cost of $20,000 per student per year, BridgeUp will be the largest funded anti-poverty program to date in New York City.
"This gift means a lot for the students and communities it will impact, for New York City and its important library system, and for the legacy for Helen and David Brown, who always understood the power of community," said Frank A. Bennack, Jr., executive vice chairman of Hearst Corporation, where Gurley Brown worked for nearly fifty years. "Helen and David's energy, enthusiasm, and passion for New York and appreciation for advanced learning, leadership, innovation, and networks are all reflected in this gift."
"Having worked with urban youth for years, I have seen the devastating impact of failed systems and the unfortunate consequences of teens falling through the cracks," said NYPL program director Shelby J. Semino. "BridgeUp is about building a new system that works for these kids, in these communities. BridgeUp is about providing access to opportunities for creative thinking and learning. And most importantly, BridgeUp is about transforming the lives of these kids, so they, in turn, can change the lives of others. It is one of the most sensible and hopeful urban poverty programs in decades."