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Two foundations, one with a historical connection to Auburn, have contributed $55,000 to a fund that helps Cayuga Community College students, the college announced in a press release Monday.

The Heckscher Foundation for Children and the Gerstner Family Foundation each gave funds to CCC's Student Emergency Grant program. The funds are meant to help students deal with unexpected complications in their lives to help them complete their degrees. 

Howard G. "Peter" Sloane, CEO and chairman of the Heckscher Foundation, said both groups contributed $27,500 to the grant.

The Heckscher Foundation's founder was Charles August Heckscher. His grandson, Charles August Heckscher II, had worked in Auburn as the editor of The Citizen in the late 1940s, before becoming the special consultant on the arts under President John F. Kennedy in 1962 and the New York City Parks commissioner in 1967.

Heckscher II said in a 1970 interview with The Smithsonian that he had a brother who had planned to live in Auburn before dying in World War II, and that after the previous editor died, Heckscher II was asked to take the job. He said Auburn was an "amazing small city" that he regretted leaving.

"I remember very consciously when I left Auburn and came back to New York (City), where of course I had always lived, I left there with a great deal of regret and many heartrendings and all that," Heckscher II said in the interview.

Sloane said he was unaware of the Auburn connection. He said program officers for the Heckscher and Gerstner foundations screened several SUNY colleges — including CCC — for the grant program and then invited the colleges they were impressed with. After going through the applications, the officers did phone interviews with the colleges' leadership groups. Sloane said the officers were impressed with the professionalism of the CCC group.

Each student's application will be examined by a Student Emergency Fund Committee. A student's qualified expenses, according to the press release, will be covered by the fund. Emergency aid will be granted to those dealing with unforeseen issues such as theft, medical emergencies, homelessness and threat of eviction. Eligible expenses include rent, clothing, back-up transportation and back-up childcare. The program is a part of a program with seven SUNY campuses. The two foundations have given more than $600,000 to the program including all the campuses.

“Many of Cayuga’s students are balancing multiple life priorities while enrolled in college. These emergency grants will be vital to keeping our students enrolled during a time of crisis," CCC President Brian Durant said in a press release.

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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Education Reporter