Hochul Unveils 'Vaccinate, Educate, Graduate' Vaccine Incentive Program, Scholarships

J.M. Lesinski

Photo by J.M. Lesinski

As the effort to vaccinate against COVID-19 continues to be a national health issue, state officials in New York are combatting the effort in their own way. New York State Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled her new vaccine incentive program - 'Vaccinate, Educate, Graduate' - for children ages 5 through 11, who if they receive their first vaccine dose by December 19th, can enter for a chance to win a full scholarship to any two- or four-year SUNY or CUNY college or university.

"Finally, the COVID-19 vaccine is here for young New Yorkers ages 5 through 11,” Hochul said of the scholarship announcement. "Our critical work to make the vaccine accessible and available to all eligible children and their families is underway - and we will creatively support and celebrate those who get vaccinated. The 'Vaccinate, Educate, Graduate' program is an extraordinary opportunity for children to win free tuition to a SUNY or CUNY college or university, and I urge parents and guardians to help their children get vaccinated and enter into this once-in-a-lifetime program."

The incentive program winners will receive their choice of two or four years of full-time study to any CUNY or SUNY degree program. Included is the full cost of in-state tuition, non-tuition costs like room and board, as well as allowances for books and transportation.

"Expanding vaccine eligibility to children as young as 5 years old gives us even greater confidence that we will effectively subdue COVID-19 and put the conditions in place for New York's full economic recovery,” CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez remarked of the scholarship announcement. “The 'Vaccinate, Educate, Graduate' program will further incentivize parents and guardians to get their children protected, and we strongly encourage them to do so. We thank Governor Hochul for encouraging more New Yorkers to get vaccinated and for leveraging CUNY's strong reputation to help lead the State's resurgence."

To be eligible for the scholarship, children must be between ages five and eleven and be residents of New York state and permanent residents or U.S. citizens. One entry per child will be permitted and children must have their first COVID-19 vaccination minimum one day prior to entry in the contest.

"Vaccinations were the key to a more normal academic and campus experience throughout SUNY,” noted SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras of the scholarship announcement. “Now that even younger individuals have an approved vaccine option, this is another huge step to seeing the finish line of this pandemic, and we must continue to do all we can to encourage everyone to get their shot. I applaud Governor Hochul for offering this new incentive along with an opportunity to attend one of our campuses tuition free. We truly hope families across our state take advantage of this offer."

Parents and guardians should call 1-833-697-4829 to enter on behalf of their eligible children over the phone. Ten winners will be revealed by New York state each week beginning November 24th, with a total of fifty lucky winners over the five-week period. All winners will be notified by the New York State Department of Health and New York State Higher Education Services Corporation. For more information, visit ny.gov/vaxforkids.

"I thank Governor Hochul for her leadership in expanding vaccinations to 5- to 11- year old's and for her action to encourage even more of New York's youth to get vaccinated,” stated New York State Higher Education Services Corporation President Dr. Guillermo Linares. “Launching the 'Vaccinate, Educate, Graduate' Vaccine Incentive Program will enable New York to drive down the overall number of positive COVID cases and ensure all New Yorkers are protected. With more opportunities available for young people to receive a full scholarship to one of New York's world-class institutions, there is no better time than now for kids 5-11 years old to get vaccinated."

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I have worked as a professional journalist for over five years now, covering the arts, music, food, politics, and culture up and down both coasts of the United States. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno.

Buffalo, NY

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