North Shore Community College President Patricia A. Gentile, Chair of the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges, led a delegation of eight Massachusetts Community College Presidents to meet with members of the state’s Congressional Delegation in Washington, DC recently to discuss the needs of community college students and sector-wide legislative priorities.
The Presidents emphasized the everyday challenges that community college students face: basic needs insecurity, childcare, immigration status, mental health, funding for critical wrap-around services, among others. Delegation Members expressed support for programs like Early College and Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS), increasing PELL and Title III grants, reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, and workforce training as important ways of ensuring access and student success at the state’s community colleges.
The meeting was hosted by Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means Representative
Richard Neal (MA-1), who serves as the Dean of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation.
Also in attendance were Representatives Jim McGovern (MA-2), Lori Trahan (MA-3), Joe Kennedy III (MA-4), Katherine Clark (MA-5), Seth Moulton (MA-6), Ayanna Pressley (MA-7) as well as Senator Ed Markey and senior staff from Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office.
“Our conversation was instructive and focused primarily on the accessibly and affordability of higher education in America. As a graduate of Holyoke C.C., I can personally attest to the significance an affordable community college education had in the development of the person I am today,” said Congressman Neal.”
“Massachusetts is a national leader in education and innovation, and our community colleges are a critical part of that success. It was great to hear directly from our community colleges about the challenges their students face. Congress must do everything it can to empower these students with the skills, training, and outlook they need. Massachusetts’s community colleges embody excellence, and I will continue to fight every day for these important institutions and the students they serve,” said Senator Markey.
“Massachusetts’ community colleges are a gateway to the middle class for so many students in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Warren. “I’m glad to work alongside our community college presidents and my congressional delegation colleagues to invest in community colleges and their students, and to combat hunger on their campuses.”
“Community colleges in Massachusetts have strong partners in our Congressional Delegation. Their understanding of the issues facing our students – from student loan debt and financial aid, to childcare and basic needs insecurity – is deeply impactful in helping our students reach their potential,” said Director Tom Sannicandro. “We are grateful for the Delegation’s longtime support of our colleges and students.”
The 15 Massachusetts Community Colleges offer open access to high quality and affordable academic programs, including associate degree and certificate programs. They provide academic preparation for transfer to four-year institutions, career preparation for entry into high demand occupational fields, developmental coursework, and lifelong learning opportunities