HEAF was founded more than 30 years ago with the explicit mission to get students from underserved communities across New York City to and through college, and into meaningful careers. For nearly a decade, HEAF has celebrated the college decisions of its seniors, and those of peer college access programs city-wide, at our annual “College Decision Day.”

This year, HEAF celebrated our 9th annual College Decision Day on June 16. It was exciting to have this year’s event in-person after having the previous two virtual due to the pandemic.

HEAF’s Chief Programs Officer Sean Harrell kicked off the event and introduced our amazing CDD partners from across New York City.

A leader from each partner organization took to the stage with pride to address the class of 2022 and the numerous achievements of students in each program. It was a great opportunity for everyone in attendance to learn about different programs around NYC that share the goal to help students achieve their greatest potential, gain equitable access to education and personal growth, successfully enroll in and attend college, and launch meaningful careers. More than 450 seniors were recognized by the six college access organizations. They were accepted by over 1,100 colleges and universities.

A highlight of the night was the student commencement speech. Students from all six organizations collaborated on a powerful speech about their shared and unique experiences as students, tackling important social topics that have shaped their development and celebrating their individual accomplishments. Click here to watch a replay of the full speech.

Next up, everyone’s favorite astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson delivered a compelling keynote address. He implored the students to make a name for themselves rather than simply relying on outside factors like a prestigious university degree to launch their careers.

After Neil’s remarks, it was time for the main event. Over 80 students from all 6 organizations had a moment to shine as they announced their college decisions to the audience. It’s always amazing to see the students’ faces light up with pride when they get to shout out their college decisions.

The night concluded with HEAF Board Member Fern Khan’s closing remarks: “I could not be more impressed by the resilience of this group of seniors. They have seen challenges in their backyards, across the country and around the world. But they do not give up. It gives me great hope for the future. And I am sure all the families and friends in the audience feel the same way.”

College Decision Day is one of our favorite events each year and we look forward to next year!

View images from College Decision Day here.