The Serrano Report, Vol. VIII, #15

Jun 17, 2011 Issues: Education, Hunger, Puerto Rico, The Bronx

On Capitol Hill

Congressman Serrano Applauds Obama Visit to Puerto Rico

On Tuesday, President Obama made the first official visit to Puerto Rico by a sitting president since John F. Kennedy in 1961. During the visit he met with Governor Luis Fortuño and looked at how American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds were benefiting Puerto Rico. Congressman Serrano applauded President Barack Obama’s visit, calling it “historic” and “very positive.”

“I was pleased to see President Obama making the first visit in decades to Puerto Rico by a sitting president,” said Congressman Serrano. “I have spent a great deal of time and energy in Congress trying to ensure fair treatment and more attention for Puerto Rico from the federal government and this visit will help that cause.”

“Too many Americans do not know about the nature of the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States, and the President’s visit helped inform them about it. All in all, President Obama’s trip will move the relationship between the territory and the 50 states in a positive direction.”

House Passes Agriculture Spending Bill

On Thursday, by a narrow vote on 217-203 the House passed the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food & Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2012. This legislation will fund the USDA including national domestic food programs such as SNAP, WIC, and the CSFP. 

“As with many other appropriations bills, the Agriculture spending bill was not exempt from Republicans' blind approach  to reducing government spending,” said Serrano. “We can all agree that careful government spending is important, but to take a heartless, cut-everything approach towards the most vulnerable is not acceptable. For this reason I voted with the rest of my Democratic colleagues against this bill.”

The WIC program, which provides food assistance to an estimated 9 million low-income, pregnant and postpartum women, as well as infants, and children, had its funding slashed. The bill will reduce WIC funding from $6.73 billion in 2011 to $6.05 billion in 2012. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, it is estimated that there will be a reduction in paricipation by 200,000 to 350,000 people nationwide. In New York alone that would mean a drop of between 11,200 and 19,500 people.

The Senate will pass its own version of the bill and advocates continue to hope that compromise between the Senate and House will eventually restore some of the cuts.

In the Bronx

Puerto Rican Day Parade

This past Sunday, Congressman Serrano marched alongside his son, State Senator José M. Serrano, in the 54th Annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade. The parade proceeded along 5th Avenue where there were an estimated two million spectators. The Serranos took the time to speak and shake hands with parade-goers as they marched along the route. This year’s parade was dedicated to the hometowns of Cabo Rojo and Patillas.

Several days before the parade, Congressman Serrano presented a Congressional Record statement to Ms. Madelyn Lugo, the Chairperson of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Inc. at the Manhattan Valley Senior Citizens Center. This presentation was part of the week-long celebration leading to the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Congressman Serrano and State Senator Serrano marching in the Puerto Rico Day Parade

Congressman Serrano and AmeriCorps Announce Grant for City Year to Serve NYC Schools

Congressman Serrano announced last week that City Year had received a $2.9 million AmeriCorps grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service.  This grant will support City Year New York’s service programs, placing young adults to serve full time as tutors and mentors in under-resourced public schools. 

“The Bronx has benefitted greatly from the work of the City Year volunteers and we are thrilled that they will continue to serve in our community,” said Congressman Serrano.   “As a part of the great AmeriCorps program, they are both helping our community, while learning more about the nation – and the experiences of Bronx residents. The learning flows both ways, and the experiences can be life-changing. I congratulate City Year for receiving this grant and thank all those who have answered the call to service by joining AmeriCorps.” 

City Year corps members focus on improving student attendance rates, behavior and course performance in math and English - which research confirms are indicators of a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school. 

Since 2003, City Year has placed teams of committed young adults in Bronx schools. This year, 71 City Year corps members serve full time in four elementary schools and two middle schools in Hunts Point and Mott Haven; PS 333/335, PS 48, PS 75, PS 154, MS 424, and MS 302, and partner with The Point CDC for after school time. The students City Year tutors in literacy at PS 335 have shown greater improvement in passing their ELA assessments compared to students at peer schools.

“AmeriCorps funding is vital for programs like ours to be able to provide New York City schools with the support they need to ensure every student has the skills to succeed,” said Itai Dinour, Executive Director at City Year New York. “We appreciate Congressman Serrano and the rest of the New York delegation for their continued advocacy for the Corporation of National and Community Service and AmeriCorps, which enables our program to continue to have an impact.”


Services for Victims of Human Trafficking

Application Deadline: July 5, 2011

The Office for Victims of Crimes recently announced the availability of funding to help victim service organizations provide timely, high-quality services to victims of human trafficking. Funding will support comprehensive services for trafficking victims or specialized mental health or legal services, and will also aim to increase the capacity of communities to respond to victims through interagency partnerships and public awareness campaigns. Grantees must have a demonstrated history of providing culturally-competent services to male and female victims of sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

For more information about this opportunity, please visit the Office of Justice Programs.

For information on other government grants, please visit