|TRIO Advocates Fight for Restoration Over Innovation!
(April 17, 2015)
Over 500 TRIO professionals, students and alumni joined the Council for Opportunity in Education at the 35th Annual Policy Seminar this March in Washington, D.C., to learn more about the legislative process and the latest policy developments affecting the TRIO programs in the nation’s capital. Participants were joined by LHHS-ED Chairman, Representative Tom Cole (R-OK-4) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) who highlight the importance of non-financial support services and urged the audience to continue their efforts in support of first-generation, low-income students. Attendees also participated in crowd favorites like “TRIO Family Feud” and Steve Colander’s “Dancing with the Budget” in an effort to learn more about TRIO’s priorities in present fiscal climate. As a result, TRIO representatives visited over 469 congressional representatives, telling TRIO student success stories and urging Members to support an increase in TRIO funding for FY 2016.
Our advocacy efforts last month are already working. A national conversation on how federal resources can better support first-generation, low-income students is beginning to develop in the House under the leadership of LHHS-ED Chairman and TRIO Champion Tom Cole (R-OK-4). The day after Policy Seminar concluded, the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (“LHHS-ED”) Appropriations Subcommittee hosted an oversight hearing entitled, “Closing the Achievement Gap in Higher Education.” Carol Fischer, Ph.D., an alumna of the McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement program at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, served as a featured witness. She shared her personal story of overcoming a history of abuse and lack for formal schooling to earning a doctorate in Oral Microbiology thanks to the academic and social supports provided by TRIO. A complete copy of Dr. Fischer’s testimony before the subcommittee is available here (.pdf).
During the hearing, Subcommittee Members showed strong support for the TRIO programs. In his opening statement (.pdf), Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole declared that while “[t]he Department of Education’s loan and grant programs make higher education a possibility for millions of Americans... programs such as TRIO and GEAR UP help students to make use of these financial resources... This preparation is essential to helping these students make use of financial aid.” Later in the hearing, Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA-15) stated, “I’ve been very much interested in Gear Up and the TRIO programs in my district. I think that they’ve been effective in helping a lot of students who may not have had a background or families who may not have had a background in higher education.” Meanwhile, Representative Martha Roby (R-AL-2) expressed that “TRIO dollars are so important to work with first generation, low income college students” and reflected on an earlier meeting that week with TRIO representatives from Alabama during during the Council for Opportunity in Education’s 35th Annual Policy Seminar. Overall, the hearing was overwhelmingly positive about the importance and impact of TRIO and GEAR UP in boosting college access and degree attainment among low-income, first-generation students. The hearing in its entirety can be viewed here.
But the conversation has just begun. Legislators in both the House and Senate are taking action. Both chambers rallied together to sign the FY 2016 TRIO Appropriations Request Letter urging a substantial increase in TRIO funding to support the restoration of services for 53,000 students whom have lost access to TRIO since FY 2009.
A total of 27 Senators amassed behind Senator Susan M. Collins (R-ME), Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to support our TRIO request in the Senate.
- Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Senator Thomas R. Carper (D-DE), Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Senator Angus S. King, Jr. (I-ME), Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Senator Joe Manchin III (D-WV), Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Senator Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Meanwhile, 97 Representatives joined Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) in support of the TRIO letter in the House.
- Karen Bass (CA-37), Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Ami Bera (CA-7), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Madeleine Bordallo (GU-1), Charles W. Boustany (LA-3), Robert Brady (PA-1), Corrine Brown (FL-5), Lois Capps (CA-24), Michael Capuano (MA-7), Andre Carson (IN-7), Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Judy Chu (CA-27), David Cicilline (RI-1), Katherine Clark (MA-5), Yvette Clark (NY-9), Stephen Cohen (TN-9), John Conyers Jr. (MI-13), Joe Courtney (CT-2), Joe Crowley (NY-14), Elijah Cummings (MD-7), Danny Davis (IL-7), Peter DeFazio (OR-4), Diana Degette (CO-1), John Delaney (MD-6), Susan DelBene (WA-1), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Mike Doyle (PA-14), Donna Edwards (MD-4), Eliot Engel (NY-16), Elizabeth Esty (CT-5), Sam Farr (CA-20), Lois Frankel (FL-22), Bill Foster (IL-11), Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2), John Garamendi (CA-3), Al Green (TX-9), Luis Gutierrez (IL-4), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Jim Himes (CT-4), Jared Huffman (CA-2), Henry Johnson (GA-4), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), William Keating (MA-9), Joseph Kennedy (MA-4), Dan Kildee (MI-5), Ann Kuster (NH-2), Jim Langevin (RI-2), John Larson (CT-1), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Sander Levin (MI-9), David Loesback (IA-2), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Ben Ray Lujan (NM-3), Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1), Stephen Lynch (MA-8), Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Jim McDermott (WA-7), Jerry McNerney (CA-9), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Richard Neal (MA-1), Richard Nolan (MN-8), Bill Pascrell (NJ-9), Scott Peters (CA-52), Collin Peterson (MN-7), Pedro Pierluisi (PR-1), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Jared Polis (CO-2), Charles B. Rangel (NY-13), Kathleen Rice (NY-4), Gregorio Sablan (MP-1), John Sarbanes (MD-3), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Bobby Scott (VA-3), David Scott (GA-13), Terri Sewell (AL-7), Louise M. Slaughter (NY-25), Adam Smith (WA-9), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Mark Takai (HI-1), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Niki Tsongas (MA-3), Norma Torres (CA-35), Chris Van Hollen (MD-8), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Filemon Vela (TX-34), Nydia Velazquez (NY-7), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Peter Welch (VT-1), Frederica Wilson (FL-24).
Copies of the House (.pdf) and Senate (.pdf) FY 2016 TRIO appropriations request letters are available on the Bulletin Board.
Congressional Caucuses on Capitol Hill are also rallying is support of the TRIO programs. The Congressional Progressive Caucus’ in its release of “The People’s Budget” (.pdf), announced TRIO as an educational priority as part of a $300 billion effort to strengthen workforce preparation, facilitate college affordability, and provide access to educational opportunity for every student in the United States. Chaired by Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-5) and Representative Raul Grijalva (AZ-4), the proposal is part of a larger budget request seeking a $1.9 trillion investment in America’s future.
The Congressional Black Caucus has also called for a robust funding increase for TRIO programs in the release of its “Alternative Budget for FY 2016” (.pdf). Seeking a $122 billion to increase access to education, the increase is part of a larger package seeking to eradicate poverty through significant and sustained investments of federal resources.