Courtesy of Lucy Duran

With winter weather fast approaching, the Community Initiative has embarked on a series of outreach efforts to help first-generation, low-income students gear up for the snowy days ahead.

The Community Initiative works alongside a variety of campus organizations — including the Asian American Cultural Center and the Yale College Dean’s Office — to provide funding and resources for FGLI students. Over October break, Community Initiative hosted a thrifting event for FGLI students. The group provided transit from noon to 4 p.m. on Friday from Phelps Gate to Savers. Around 65 students participated in the event — just one of the many that the Community Initiative will offer throughout the semester.

“With winter approaching, we figured students could use a trip to a local thrift store to purchase any items they may need,” Jorge Anaya ’19 wrote in an email to the News. “Students who have been accepted to the Winter Clothing Grant were able to get reimbursed if they made any purchases during this trip.”

The Community Initiative is dedicated to empowering FGLI students at Yale who feel as if they don’t belong due to their background or socioeconomic status. In addition to the trip to Savers, the group partnered with the Yale College Dean’s Office to offer the Winter Clothing Grant, which provides as much as $250 to cover items such as gloves, boots and coats. The fund is especially designed to equip those who may come from hometowns with warmer weather year-round.

The Community Initiative also offers a Career Closet, which allows students to borrow outfits for events like interviews and college formals. The clothes can be borrowed from the AACC for up to 14 days.

In an interview with the News, FGLI student Giovanni Rivas ’22 said he has not accessed any of the resources provided by the Community Initiative but added that he understands the need for those services.

Hailing from the South, he spent almost all year in summer or spring attire and now faces exorbitant price tags for winter clothing, Rivas said. He added that the Career Closet’s business and formal clothing could help him “focus on the interview, and not [his] attire.”

“I think it’s super helpful that resources are provided and guided to provide simple things such as clothes,” Rivas said.

In addition to providing access to winter clothes and professional attire, the Community Initiative seeks to foster a close community of FGLI students. Every week, the organization offers two nights of events in the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, during which students can hang out with the FGLI student ambassadors and attend Academic Strategy workshops.

Amal Altareb ’22 told the News that while she could not go on the Savers trip, the Community Initiative has positively impacted her time at Yale.

“I went to the CTL for free FGLI lunch on Friday right before prayer, expecting free food and to catch up with my friends from [First-Year Scholars],” Altareb said. “But I got more than that: I felt at peace just walking in, being that this group of people are like me — that there is a shared sense of understanding and a special bond even if I did not know most of them.”

The Community Initiative for FGLI students was created in fall of 2018.


Kaitlin Kelly |