City and university officials announce six-year commitment, increase Yale’s voluntary contribution

Jessie Cheung, Staff Photographer

Yale and New Haven will launch several initiatives to strengthen the university’s commitment to the city, including an increase in Yale’s voluntary contribution, the creation of a new center for inclusive growth, and a new expectation that the university will compensate for the loss of income of the city on the properties that it removes the tax roll.

Officials gathered on Wednesday afternoon to announce the changes, which follow years of advocacy by unions and local organizations. Yale’s voluntary contribution is expected to increase by $ 52 million over six years, bringing the total contribution over that period to $ 135.4 million. The Center for Inclusive Growth “will seek to identify economic and social development initiatives that will support growth throughout our community,” according to a press release. Authorities have also announced that the section of High Street between Elm Street and Chapel Street – which runs between the Old Campus and Harkness Tower – will be redeveloped with funding and advice from Yale as a city-owned pedestrian bridge.

The pledge follows recent news that the University’s endowment increased by $ 11.1 billion to a total value of $ 42.3 billion in fiscal year 2021. At the same time, the city projected a budget deficit of $ 66 million for fiscal year 2021-22 before receiving additional funding from the state and Yale. City officials and advocacy organizations have long called on Yale to increase its voluntary payments to the city, including an ongoing Yale: Respect New Haven campaign that called on the University to pay the full amount of the tax relief she receives for her non-profit status.

“Yale and New Haven have a bond that has been tested by time and strengthened by a common purpose,” University President Peter Salovey said in a press release. “As New Haven’s flagship institution and the city’s largest employer, the university is proud to do its part in building a community that creates sustained inclusive growth in all neighborhoods across the city. New Haven is poised for accelerated growth thanks to increased funding from the federal, state and university governments. “

The University currently donates $ 13 million for its annual voluntary contribution to its hometown. Yale will add $ 10 million per year to its voluntary contribution for the next five years and $ 2 million for the sixth year. Salovey said on Wednesday that this commitment will take effect during the current fiscal year, which runs from July 2021 to June 2022. The expected voluntary contribution for this period will be $ 23.2 million, according to the press release. .

According to Henry Fernandez, executive director of the local nonprofit LEAP and head of the city’s delegation in joint negotiations with the university, “Yale’s annual contributions have nothing to do with them.” under the new plan. He said he hopes this will set a “new standard” for institutions across the country.

“This is a historic moment for the relationship between the City of New Haven and Yale University,” said Mayor Justin Elicker. “Yale has contributed in many ways to the city, but with today’s announcement, Yale is committed to contributing more financially over the next six years than it has in the past 20. combined.

Negotiations for the details of this new deal have lasted more than a year, according to Fernandez. They involved a large team of city and university officials. Elicker said the “real lively dialogue” during the negotiations helped build confidence and understanding of each other’s goals and set the stage for future collaborations. He added that although there was no connection to the new union contract agreement, working on the union agreement during the pandemic created “a spirit of mutual cooperation” which also helped to close the deal. New Haven.

In addition to details of Yale’s voluntary contribution and property tax exemptions, the two sides also focused on how to address long-term inequity issues in the city. Fernandez said the work of the newly established Center for Inclusive Growth could advance towards this goal.

The Center will be established with an additional $ 5 million from Yale over the next six years. Kerwin Charles, Dean of the School of Management, will participate in the management of the Center. Charles’s area of ​​expertise includes wealth inequalities and the consequences of real estate bubbles.

While the Centre’s specific framework and programs are still under development, Charles expressed his hope to engage both Yale and New Haveners affiliates in conversations about how to encourage economic development. sustainable in the city. Elicker said that as the city grows and launches new opportunities, the Center will also help guide policy and create opportunities for New Haven residents.

Salovey described the Center as “a collaborative center that will work on the issues and challenges of urban centers like the city of New Haven in the present day.” He said the Center will also allow Yale and New Haven students to serve as interns, research assistants and other positions.

Another move of the deal is that Yale will temporarily increase contributions if new properties are built. For years, local organizations and politicians have opposed the University’s tax-exempt status. Officials on Wednesday announced that for properties taken off the tax roll over the next six years, Yale will offset some of the lost tax revenue with additional voluntary payments. The University will also compensate for the loss of any existing commercial property that it converts into university space.

The new tax offsets will be added to the payment in lieu of state taxes program, or PILOT. Through this program, the state reimburses cities, towns and municipalities for lost income due to tax-exempt properties. President Salovey said that the redesign of PILOT last year, when the the state legislature changed the way municipalities receive aid for tax-exempt properties on the basis of a new needs-based formula, was “a favorable change”. This allowed the university to step up its contribution as Yale would not be the only player to tackle the city’s financial challenges, he said.

Also as part of the deal, the parties will establish a new public walkway at the center of the Yale campus, on the High Street between Chapel and Elm. The roadway will no longer be open to the circulation of vehicles other than emergency cars. Instead, this section of the street will be converted into a pedestrian walkway, similar to Wall Street. Yale will lead the design of the bridge, subject to City Plan Commission and New Haven Traffic Authority approval.

Although Yale will fund the renovations and maintain the public space on the High Street, the city will retain the property rights. Speakers at the press conference stressed the importance of welcoming all New Haveners to this new space, which also aims to promote pedestrian safety in the area. Elicker said keeping High Street in the public domain “sets the tone that Yale is part of our community.”

The four-part pledge is subject to a vote by the council of aldermen, the date of which has yet to be set, according to council chairman and ward 23 alderman Tyisha Walker-Myers.

After five years, Yale will contribute an additional $ 2 million, instead of $ 10 million, to its basic voluntary contribution.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Fernandez advised the mayor to “start negotiating” before reaching the sixth year of the deal.

Fernandez called it, “The big red light of the sixth year.” After the event, Salovey added that he expects the city and the university to strike up a new conversation in year five about what will happen after the six-year period.

“The drop in sixth grade is really kind of a reminder that we have to get down to business and get it done,” Salovey said. “I fully suspect that this will be done in good faith, and you will start to hear about it in five years.”

Walker-Myers spoke about the importance of the ongoing “uncomfortable” conversations between Yale and New Haven about the needs of the community. She said the most encouraging implication of the deal is that “residents finally have a chance to see that Yale actually heard what they were saying.”

“This is historic because we have had unions, elected officials and community members who have all worked together for a number of years saying, ‘Yale, please hear our cry’, Walker-Myers said. Yale stepped in and said, ‘we hear you, we listen to you.’ But a partnership is not over once an agreement is signed. It goes way beyond that.

Local activist groups – many of whom have spent years lobbying for Yale to increase its contribution to the city – celebrated the announcement, but stressed the importance of continued collaboration.

In a joint statement, Reverend Scott Marks of New Haven Rising and Barbara Vereen of Local 34 – UNITE HERE wrote on behalf of a coalition of local unions and advocacy organizations that “this campaign has been in the works for many years. decades ”and called the new initiatives“ historic victories.

“Members of our union and community coalition marched, gathered, testified, risked arrest for civil disobedience, put up signs in our yards and had thousands and thousands of conversations with our people. neighbors ”, they wrote in their joint statement. “Today’s announcement does not solve all of our city’s problems, but it is an important step in the right direction and a historic recognition that the fates of New Haven and Yale University are inextricably linked.

As of March 2020, 60% of New Haven’s Big List was tax-exempt.

This story has been updated with additional sources and details about the deal.


Sai Rayala reports on Yale-New Haven relations. She previously covered climate and environmental efforts in New Haven. Originally from Powell, Ohio, she is a second year student at Timothy Dwight College majoring in history.


Sylvan Lebrun reports on the town hall. She previously covered nonprofit organizations and social services in the New Haven area. She is a second year student at Pauli Murray College majoring in English.

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