April 8, 2020 FALL 2019

Tackling Educational Inequality

John Mara, President, CEO, and co-owner of the New York Giants, explains his passion for improving educational access opportunities.

By Andrea Dawn Clark

This year marked a big milestone for the New York Giants and John Jay College. It’s the first year of our New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship. The generous donation from the Giants speaks directly to John Jay’s justice mission and our commitment to social mobility. The $150,000 fellowship is payable over three years, and it supports a scholarship and paid internship for five undergraduate rising seniors from underrepresented populations, who are majoring in Criminal Justice. Students receive a scholarship of $5,000 for tuition, fees, books and supplies, plus a paid internship of $5,000, split over the academic year. Preference is given to students with justice-involved backgrounds or immediate family members currently or formerly incarcerated. Sitting down with John Mara, President, CEO, and co-owner of the New York Giants, we learned why he and his team started the fellowship program at John Jay.

Why was creating the New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship so important?

It started as a result of conversations with our players who wanted us to support their efforts to effect social change through social justice initiatives. One of their first thoughts was a scholarship program at John Jay. The idea behind it was to provide deserving students with an opportunity to get a degree, specifically students who are interested in criminal justice and social justice. The issue of mass incarceration in this country is certainly one that’s on the minds of a lot of people, particularly a number of our players. To be honest, it wasn’t really something that I was focused on until they brought it to my attention and I started doing some research. Then I realized that the incarceration rates in this country compared to other countries is way out of whack. One of the tools you need to improve that situation is education.

What were some of the biggest lessons you learned in college and law school?

Right after I got out of law school, I went to work for a law firm that represented labor unions. I spent most of my time representing the union members—hotel, restaurant, and cleaning workers—trying to win their jobs back. I grew up in a family business where we always treated people with dignity, respect, and compassion. It was a real eye-opener to be out in a world where people weren’t necessarily treated that way. There was nothing more gratifying for me professionally than winning somebody’s job back.

Why is philanthropy so important?

For me, it was just the way I was raised. I’m a big believer in the biblical verse, “to whom much has been given, much will be required.” I’ve been given a lot in my life. I’ve led a very privileged life, and with that comes responsibilities. It’s important to give back and to try to do what we can to give other people opportunities that maybe some of us have taken for granted. We have a lot of players who are very conscious of giving back and who do a remarkable job in their communities.

Do you have any fun Giants stories?

My family goes back with the Giants to 1925, when my grandfather purchased the franchise for the sum of $500. I’m in the third generation. When I was in college taking business classes, I remember taking a class that was focused on family businesses. One of the main principles of that class was that family businesses rarely survive the third generation. It’s usually the dope in the third generation that screws up the family business. I’m doing my best not to do that. I’m sure a number of our fans would say, “It’s too late, you already are.” We’ve had a tough stretch lately, but we’re hoping to turn things around and get better. We’ve had a lot of great thrills in this business—winning some Super Bowls, meeting a lot of great players and people. It’s all been a blessing. Hopefully it’s something that’s going to stay in our family for many, many years.

Photography: Courtesy of New York Giants

Contents

Class of 2019 Then & Now

This past May, the class of 2019 graduated from John Jay College. We checked in with a few of them to find out how they’re launching their careers

President’s Letter

At John Jay College we’re used to taking on tough challenges. Our student body knows how to juggle jobs, academics,...

Campus News

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Awards a $1.5 million Grant to the Prisoner Reentry Institute.

By the Numbers

In 2019, John Jay College graduated the largest class in its history: 3,144 bachelor’s degrees and 698 master’s degrees.

Dive In

John Jay’s new pool will open up swimming opportunities for underrepresented populations. By Andrea Dawn Clark

Camera Ready

Understanding the Impact of Law Enforcement Wearing Body Cameras. By Sam Anderson

On the Edge of Glory

The new Completion for Upper-division Students Program (CUSP) supports seniors with 90-plus credits, removing any obstacles blocking their pathway to success. By Mary Anderson

Food For Thought

Tackling the growing food-insecurity problem, making sure that John Jay students are nourished both mentally and physically. By Andrea Dawn Clark

Read All About it

How the new Justice e-Reader is bringing together a collection of justice-focused texts, creating an intellectual hub for our community and classrooms. By Shirley Del Valle

Full Circle

Ronald F. Day ’19, Ph.D., proves what’s possible when people have access to an education. By Andrea Dawn Clark

Natural Born Advocate

Roshawn Boyce ’95 shines a light on social injustices. By Shirley Del Valle

The Real Nature of Sexual Violence

Professor Elizabeth Jeglic, Ph.D., uses research and straight-forward approaches in her mission to advance the prevention of sexual violence. By Mary Anderson

The Institute for Innovation in Prosecution Reimagines the Role of Prosecutors

Seeking to create a fairer, more equitable criminal justice system, the IIP is dedicated to transforming prosecutors’ roles  in the criminal justice system. By Jocelyn Key

Flashback – 1988

Mother Teresa at John Jay College of Criminal Justice for the 23rd Commencement.

President
Karol V. Mason

Vice President for Public Affairs
and Strategic Initiatives

Laura Ginns

Chief Communications Officer
Rama Sudhakar

Senior Editor/Writer
Editorial Director

Andrea Dawn Clark

Writer/Editor
Shirley Del Valle

Contributing Writers
Mary Anderson
Sam Anderson
Jocelyn Key

Senior Designer/Art Director
Laura DeVries

Designer
Stephanie Birdsong

Copy Editor
Carey Ostergard

Photography
Denis Gostev
Amber Gray

Illustration
Sandy Bandes