The Borough of Brooklyn1
The Center for the Study of Brooklyn's constituencies represent some of the most diverse populations living and working together in the United States, and perhaps in the world. Significant diversity can be found in many categories, including race, income, education, age, familial status and language. A full 37% of Brooklyn’s 2.5 million population is foreign-born, including over 50% of the population in Community District 14 (in which the Center for the Study of Brooklyn is located), which contains the largest Haitian population outside of Haiti. Caribbean countries make up the largest group at 34% (321,261 people) of the foreign-born. Caribbean immigrants primarily hail from the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti, and Trinidad & Tobago. Chinese make up another 9% of the foreign-born, with an additional 5% coming each from the Ukraine, Mexico, and Guyana. Census bureau statistics, which as one can see do not even begin to capture the range of ethnic diversity, estimate Brooklyn's racial make up as approximately one third Black, one third white, one fifth Latino, and one tenth Asian.
Along with the bounty and advantages of such diversity, issues of disparity and inequity also exist in the borough. 46% of the population over the age of five reported “not speaking English very well.” Brooklyn has low numbers of high school (68%) and college graduates (21%), second only to the Bronx. 25% percent of households have persons over the age of 65. Median household income is 15% below that of New York City's, and a concerning 23% of Brooklyn residents live below the poverty line. One third of families are headed by a female with no partner, and nearly 55% of homeowners and 53% of renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing. Many public health statistics paint a bleak picture in several neighborhoods, as do statistics relating to incarceration, crime, and quality of housing.
However, amidst the challenges facing the borough, there is certainly cause for optimism. Over the last several years, much of the borough of Brooklyn has been booming. It has attracted investment in its commercial and housing sectors not witnessed in nearly a century, and new local businesses have been thriving. Opportunities for growth in Brooklyn's burgeoning green economy have been enthusiastically embraced. There is a renaissance of arts and culture, and a focus on innovative community development and educational practices. Many immigrants are finding avenues for gainful employment, and borough residents can take advantage of the recent investments in cultural institutions, parks and open spaces.
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The Center for the Study of Brooklyn is based at Brooklyn College, whose students reflect demographic trends in the borough. Of its nearly 16,000 students (12,000 undergraduates and 3,800 graduate students), 46% are White, 30% are Black, 12% are Asian/Pacific Islander, and 11% are Hispanic. A vibrant and intellectually engaged community, Brooklyn College's student body is comprised of individuals from more than one hundred nations, speaking some ninety-five languages. The Center is committed to working with these bright and ambitious individuals to help them become the leaders of Brooklyn's tomorrow. The 534 full time and 722 part-time faculty are innovators and entrepreneurs in their respective fields, and include Pulitzer Prize winners and MacArthur Fellows. Since Fall 2000, over 200 new faculty have been hired, enhancing the research capacity and repertoire Brooklyn College and the Center for the Study of Brooklyn have to offer.
1) U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 American Community Survey, Data Profile, Kings County.
2) “About Brooklyn College: Fast Facts”. Brooklyn College website. 3 Oct. 2007. Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.
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