NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Several dozen community members and elected officials from across the state joined a standing-room-only crowd at the Varick Memorial AME Zion Church in New Haven for a special MLK Day Service to renew their commitment to the civil rights icon’s legacy, and to call on Yale University to contribute more to the Elm City Monday.
Leaders called for a stronger relationship between the Ivy League University and New Haven beginning with its tax breaks.
“The theme is about a partnership; it’s about paying your share and empowering the neighborhoods in which you reside,” said Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn Wooden.
Community members saying Yale represents some of the wealthiest in the country while many residents in the city can’t make ends meet.
“In the last days of Dr. King’s life, he talked about the other America. He talked about an America where people on one side of America had homes with carpets wall to wall and the other America with rats and roaches wall-to-wall.”Reverent Scott Marks, New Haven
“Yale, which is a major player in New Haven and in our state, offers a lot of value, but in New Haven it also represents inequality and the gaps in society from the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots.'”Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn Wooden
The group New Haven Rising said Yale University expands its footprint throughout the city and benefits from a $30 billion endowment with tax exemptions. Meanwhile, the City of New Haven faces a potential budget deficit of $50 million and the city’s schools face another round of budget cuts.
Marks told News 8 the playing field should be leveled.
“We’re calling for Yale to be more of a partner. They do many tremendous things, but basically we want to make sure that all of the city rises together.”Reverent Scott Marks, New Haven
Yale University sent this statement in response to the demand:
“Yale is a strong supporter of and contributor to New Haven. The university’s annual voluntary payment to New Haven is over $12 million. No other city receives a larger voluntary payment from a single institution. The university also pays over $5 million in annual property taxes on its non-academic properties and as a result is one of the top four real estate taxpayers in New Haven.
Beyond dollar figures, Yale’s positive impact on New Haven can be seen in the thousands of students who have benefited over the years from its rich educational programs, which are free for New Haven residents. The university devotes significant resources in support of our local community, including a focus on hiring from local neighborhoods, supporting and sustaining educational outreach and programs, and fostering economic development. Our cultural institutions are free and open to everyone in the greater New Haven community and beyond.
Yale has contributed to the economic growth of the city by creating new pathways to careers at Yale, including training programs, apprenticeships and initiatives with area schools and colleges. This article outlines many of the hiring initiatives and programs we’ve created, such as New Haven Works, which Yale co-founded. We continue to commit significant resources to it and are number one in terms of job placements from this program. Yale’s Homebuyer Program provides $30,000 to full-time employees toward the purchase of a home in New Haven.
The university co-founded and is a primary funder of New Haven Promise, which provides up to $4 million annually in scholarships for New Haven Public School students and covers full tuition at any public university in Connecticut. Nearly 100 New Haven Promise Scholars received paid summer internships at Yale in 2019 and more will benefit in the years to come. These internships are a pipeline for future jobs. We also invest in the Yale Pathways to Science and Pathways to Arts and Humanities programs, which provide free year-round classes and workshops to hundreds of local public school students. These are only a few examples of how Yale gives back to its community. You can learn more at https://onhsa.yale.edu
The university has a long-standing commitment to our home in New Haven and remains dedicated to working closely with its mayor, its Board of Alders and its community partners and neighbors.”Yale University, Office of Media Relations