Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

Congressman Serrano & NY Delegation Asks Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio to Help TRIO Program Students

Apr 20, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman José E. Serrano today led a letter, with 12 of his New York colleagues, to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to consider the needs of and provide targeted assistance to Federal TRIO Programs students as the state and city provide relief to higher education institutions, students, and their families. TRIO Program students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and face significant barriers to finish high school and to succeed in college. The closure of school facilities and move to online learning has only amplified these challenges. Federal TRIO Programs students cannot access the help and support available through the program (tutoring, counseling, help with the college application process etc.) to the same extent as they normally would. Many of these students also lack access to the technology and other resources necessary to study from home successfully as the City faces the coronavirus pandemic, and additional help is needed. The letter was signed by 12 members of the NY Congressional delegation: Reps. Nydia Velázquez, Tom Suozzi, Adriano Espaillat, Grace Meng, Kathleen Rice, Max Rose, Eliot Engel, Hakeem Jeffries, Greg Meeks, Yvette Clarke, Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler.

“As the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant negative impact on our educational systems. Both the City University of New York (CUNY) and State University of New York (SUNY) Systems have moved to online learning, as have many other colleges and universities. Unfortunately, closed campuses and online classes create large barriers for many TRIO students. Many of these students continue to lack the necessary access to technology and resources to seamlessly continue their studies at home. Without the additional educational support TRIO Programs provide and targeted assistance to ensure online capabilities, we fear their progress will be significantly and irreparably impacted,” the members wrote. 

FULL TEXT OF THE LETTER BELOW:

April 17, 2020

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of New York State

New York State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224

The Honorable Bill de Blasio

Mayor of New York City

52 Chamber Street

New York, NY 10007

Dear Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio:

As you work to provide relief to local school districts, institutions of higher education, and students and families, we write to bring your attention to a vulnerable population that are in a precarious position as a direct result of the coronavirus public health crisis. Students participating in Federal TRIO Programs are already working to overcome significant barriers to their educational success before this crisis closed schools across the state. We urge your help to ensure these students and their achievement are protected during the crisis.

Federal TRIO Programs provide additional educational resources to help students overcome significant cultural and socioeconomic barriers to complete their secondary education and prepare for higher education. The students who participate in TRIO programs are first-generation, low-income, or have a disability. TRIO services include tutoring; personal, financial, and career counseling; and assistance choosing a college and navigating the application and financial aid process.

As the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant negative impact on our educational systems.  Both the City University of New York (CUNY) and State University of New York (SUNY) Systems have moved to online learning, as have many other colleges and universities. Unfortunately, closed campuses and online classes create large barriers for many TRIO students. Many of these students continue to lack the necessary access to technology and resources to seamlessly continue their studies at home. Without the additional educational support TRIO Programs provide and targeted assistance to ensure online capabilities, we fear their progress will be significantly and irreparably impacted.

As you know, section 18002 of the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (Public Law No. 116-136) provides the governor of each state with an emergency education relief fund that can be used widely at their discretion across primary, secondary, and higher education institutions around the state. Additionally, section 18004 provides funds directly to Institutions of Higher Education (including the schools in the CUNY and SUNY systems). In both cases, these funds may be used to provide emergency support to institutions of higher education serving students that have been significantly impacted by coronavirus. We believe TRIO students merit support and ask that you consider the unique needs of these students as you work to provide relief with this funding. Including vulnerable TRIO students in relief efforts will help ensure that our health and economic crises do not turn into an opportunity crisis. 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter and for your steadfast leadership during the COVID-19 crisis. While we work to ensure more federal funding is provided in the next emergency

supplemental that adequately meets the needs of New York, we remain committed to working with you to ensure our students and their families can successfully weather these challenging times.

 

Sincerely,

José E. Serrano

Member of Congress

 

 

/s/

Nydia M. Velázquez

Member of Congress

 

 

/s/

Thomas R. Suozzi

Member of Congress

 

 

/s/

Adriano Espaillat

Member of Congress

 

 

/s/

Grace Meng

Member of Congress

 

 

/s/

Kathleen M. Rice

Member of Congress

 

 

/s/

Max Rose

Member of Congress

 

 

/s/

Eliot L. Engel

Member of Congress

 

 

/s/

Hakeem Jeffries

Member of Congress

 

 

/s/

Gregory W. Meeks

Member of Congress

 

 

/s/

Yvette D. Clarke

Member of Congress

 

 

/s/

Carolyn B. Maloney

Member of Congress

 

 

/s/

Jerrold Nadler

Member of Congress

CC:         Ms. Shannon Tahoe, Interim Commissioner of the NYS Department of Education and President of the University of the State of New York

Dr. Betty A. Rosa, Chancellor, NYS Department of Education Board of Trustees

Dr. Kristina M. Johnson, Chancellor, State University of New York

Dr. Merryl H. Tisch, Chair, SUNY Board of Trustees

Dr. Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, Chancellor, City University of New York

The Honorable William C. Thompson, Jr., Chairman, CUNY Board of Trustees

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 Congressman José E. Serrano has represented The Bronx in Congress since 1990.