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Teaming up with Project Destined and York College for JFK T8 Student Airport Bridge program

JFK T8 Partners, the URW-led joint venture responsible for the $125 million commercial transformation of JFK Terminal 8, recently teamed up with social impact platform Project Destined and Queens-based York College to launch the inaugural JFK T8 Student Airport Bridge program.

December 14, 2023

As part of its commitment to fostering opportunities for local and disadvantaged communities, JFK T8 Innovation Partners (T8 Partners) celebrated a partnership with social impact platform Project Destined and Jamaica, Queens-based York College that is offering work-based learning, mentorship, and career development opportunities to diverse local undergraduate students in the Queens community as part of the commercial redevelopment of John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) Terminal 8.

Local stakeholders including representatives from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), American Airlines, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW), York College, and Project Destined came together to recognize the inaugural program and its students. The celebration took place at York College where students and stakeholders had an opportunity for a meet and greet.  

Led by URW, an owner and operator of sustainable, high-quality real estate assets across the U.S. and Europe, T8 Partners is the joint venture selected by American Airlines in partnership with the Port Authority to lead the $125 million commercial redevelopment of JFK’s Terminal 8, part of the Port Authority’s $19 billion transformation of JFK Airport.

The T8 program extends the successful long-term partnership between URW and Project Destined, which provides students in underserved communities with training in financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and real estate. The initial student cohort included 15 students from the City University of New York (CUNY) Aviation Institute at York College. The CUNY Aviation Institute at York College was established in 2003 through the funding of a grant from the PANYNJ to promote education and research for the aviation industry.

During the six-week program, students gained exposure to the skills, resources, and network required to build a career in airport development. The program featured weekly sessions with subject matter experts from the T8 Partners team. Each session highlights a topic pertaining to airport commercial business and future career opportunities including topics such as airport commercial development, investment and partnerships, innovation, entrepreneurship, and diversity. Students also had the chance to make an in-person site visit to Terminal 8 for hands-on learning. Additionally, each student earned a scholarship stipend through the program.

“We are excited that the Port Authority of NY and NJ and JFK T8 Innovation Partners, led by Unibail-Rodamco Westfield, brought together York College and Project Destined to launch the JFK Terminal 8 (T8) Student Bridge Program,” said York College President Berenecea Johnson Eanes. “Our aviation students will benefit tremendously from this intensive internship. This collaboration exemplifies the impact of how we can successfully work together to build a pipeline of York College students in Southeast Queens to become the next generation of global industry leaders. We appreciate all of the work that JFK Redevelopment is doing to give back in its backyard; it is so important and life-changing.”

The Student Bridge program sponsored by T8 Innovation Partners in partnership with Project Destined is one of a wide array of programs aimed at connecting communities surrounding JFK with opportunities generated by the redevelopment and operation of the airport. Since 2018, the Port Authority and its private partners have acted on input from the JFK Redevelopment Community Advisory Council, led by co-chairs Congressman Gregory Meeks and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, to create meaningful opportunities for local businesses, for minority- and women-owned businesses and for students from communities surrounding the airport. The Port Authority and its private partners recently announced another initiative with York College, the Aviation and Aeronautics Academy, which will provide an aviation-focused weekend and summer education and enrichment program in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for up to 700 students from grades 1 through 12 each year.

“Working with T8 Partners to expand opportunities for young people in the neighborhoods surrounding JFK International Airport is a priority that the JFK Redevelopment Community Advisory Council identified early in the process of creating a state-of-the-art airport,” said Hersh Parekh, Port Authority Director of Government and Community Relations for New York. “Not only will JFK soon become a world-class airport, it will also become the world-class neighbor this community deserves.”

“Ensuring that Terminal 8 benefits our local community is paramount to everything we do here, and we’re honored to build on our longstanding partnership with Project Destined to help develop the next generation of industry leaders,” said Brad Tollefson, URW Senior Vice President of Development. “We are honored to partner with amazing local institutions like York College to provide a one-of-a-kind learning and career development experience for Queens-based students.”  

“As we witness airports everywhere undergo multi-billion-dollar transformations, this program represents a truly unique opportunity for local and diverse students to get an inside look and in-depth training that sets them up for career opportunities within a growing global industry,” said Project Destined Co-Founder Cedric Bobo. “We’re proud to continue to partner with URW to ensure these students have the training, network, and resources to capture these opportunities in their own backyard and beyond.”

“JFK Terminal 8 is proud to be a part of this initiative to inspire and prepare the next generation of diverse aviation professionals from the Queens community,” said American Airlines Director of Government Affairs Obie Kernodle. “We congratulate the inaugural group of students for completing the program, and we look forward to the students bringing their training and innovative thinking to key projects that benefit airport customers.” 

Since its founding in 2016, Project Destined has worked with more than 4,500 participants in 35 cities across the U.S., U.K., Canada and Europe.

This program mirrors successful programs URW and Project Destined have partnered on in the past including one at LAX where at least two student participants earned full-time employment at URW following the completion of the program.

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