Kid City along with SoCal Can and three LA organizations join the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) to advocate for #DoublePell!
During the first week of March 2021, Kid City participated in a national advocacy campaign, organized by the National College Attainment Network (NCAN), to advocate for #DoublePell and several other federal policy priorities focused on college attainment and education equity. Kid City partnered with colleagues at college access organizations across California, including SoCal CAN, Operation JumpStart, Partnership for LA Schools, and Northern California College Promise Coalition to amplify our message as a unified community.
Our delegation of advocates, including Kid City staff and students, participated in virtual advocacy meetings with 10 congressional offices in California. These meetings included the offices of both Senator Padilla and Senator Feinstein as well as Representative Jimmy Gomez, who represents our district in Downtown Los Angeles.
In addition to advocating for doubling the Pell Grant, Kid City highlighted the importance of the following issues:
Improving access to SNAP benefits for college students to mitigate food insecurity.
Expanding Pell Grant eligibility to undocumented students.
Equal access to internet connectivity for remote learning.
Extending the student loan grace period & pandemic loan deferment.
These advocacy goals address a wide range of issues that existed before the pandemic but have become exacerbated and more widespread. Several student advocates mentioned how they had been forced to work multiple jobs to afford their college education and support their family members during the pandemic.
Soon after the Virtual Advocacy Week, Congressman Jimmy Gomez introduced the Enhance Access to SNAP Act of 2021. If passed, this bill will make an amendment to the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to count college enrollment as an eligibility requirement for SNAP benefits. The Urban Foundation and Kid City Hope Place endorsed this bill because we understand the severity of food insecurity amongst college students, especially during this pandemic. We believe this bill has the potential to advance equity by meeting students’ basic needs and allowing them to pursue their education without hunger.
Jason Vazquez, Advocacy and Special Projects Intern, coordinated and led meetings with Congressional offices. “These advocacy meetings allowed me to reflect on my experience as a first-generation student of color and reconsider the constant struggle that thousands of students endure to pursue higher education. I understand the overwhelming burden of navigating college with limited support, so I felt it was my responsibility to participate as an advocate and amplify the stories of my community of South LA. The entire process empowered me to use my voice to transform apathy into action. I was particularly inspired by the vulnerability and strength of younger student advocates, who shared their stories to illustrate the urgency for change. Progress through policy is slow, but I truly feel that we created some momentum towards equity.”
Androgony King is a Kid City alumnus and current college student studying Photography at the California College of the Arts. “Participating in this advocacy was not only important for myself but for those in my community, specifically the art community. For so long, the arts have been belittled and underfunded. With this opportunity, I hope to remind the individuals in power that the Arts are just as important as any other degree. As well as no matter what degree we choose to pursue we all face the same barriers as we try to tackle higher education.” The entertainment industry in California is a main economic driver that relies on creative individuals. Arts students are essential and that is why Androgony’s presence was important.
At Kid City we strive to provide students with leadership development opportunities. Androgony explains what they learned from their advocacy participation. “The ability to speak to congressional staff gave me a better understanding of why it is important to voice your concerns and essentially not hold back. It also helped me be precise on the issues that I want to tackle when talking to individuals in higher authority. As a student leader, this experience better assisted me in advocating for the Arts and echo the importance of art. It also inspired me to continue to fight not only as an art student but as well as a low-income, first-generation, queer, latin individual. Ultimately reminding me that my identity is not something to be shameful of, rather inspiring myself to be confident on how I chose to identify myself.”
Kid City will continue to advocate for the needs of the students we serve in Los Angeles to achieve education equity. Kid City staff and students will be participating in future advocacy campaigns with partners at Education Trust West in April and with the College for All Coalition in June.
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