CUNY TV logo


This edition: Second Chances: The CUNY SEEK and College Discovery Story

Episode Details

Original tape date: February 27, 2012.

First aired: March 19, 2012.

Using historical photos and footage, eye witness accounts, and an original musical score, this CUNY TV documentary tells, for the first time, the dramatic history of the SEEK Program at the City University of New York. SEEK was the first state-mandated Opportunity Program in the country, opening the doors of public higher education to educationally and financially disadvantaged youth. Born during the civil rights era, SEEK became the model for colleges and universities around the country.

Since then, SEEK has given thousands of underprivileged youth the opportunity not only to go to college, but also to develop the skills to thrive and be successful. A similar program called College Discovery was developed for CUNY’s two-year colleges.

The documentary interviews many of the key political and educational leaders responsible for creating the SEEK program, including the Hon. David Dinkins, Hon. Basil Paterson, Former CUNY Chancellor Albert Bowker, Former NYS Senator John Marchi, and Hon. Percy Sutton, who led the efforts with the New York State Legislature. The documentary also features students who achieved notable success after they were given this “second chance,” including Hon. Lottie Wilkins, NYS Supreme Court Justice, Oscar Hijuelos, the first Hispanic Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction, NYS Senator Adriano Espaillat, the first Dominican-American elected to a state legislature, and the late Louis Reyes Rivera, poet and writer.

In July, 2010, the New York State Legislature renamed SEEK “The Percy Ellis Sutton SEEK Program.” The documentary is dedicated to his efforts and his memory.