The New York City Council – Video

The New York City Council – Video.

Dear Friends,

We hope you are enjoying a good fall and we write to share some policy news.

WRI testified Wednesday September 25, 2013 before the NYC Council Committee for Community Development. The Neighborhood Stress Project at Hunter College Co- Directors Mimi Abramovitz, , Silberman School of Social Work  at Hunter College, CUNY and Jochen Albrecht,  Department of Geography, Hunter College, CUNY led the non-governmental testimony with their research identifying the city districts with concentrated poverty.

The Committee heard testimony on Intro 1148 (see attached) a local law to amend the New York city charter and the administrative code of the city of New York by designating high needs areas within New York City as Community Development Zones.  Intro 1148 represents a comprehensive response to entrenched problem of poverty in our city.  The council hearing was invigorating and the experience was hopeful.  Attached is WRI’s testimony.

Intro 1148 proposes a governance board for the Community Development Zones.  WRI’s testimony urges the Committee to consider greatly expanding the participation of people with firsthand experience of poverty and welfare on the governance board.  In addition, we suggested that a dialogue process can be used to engage a wide variety of stakeholders in the planning and implementing of the zones.

At WRI, we know getting an education is the surest route out of poverty. This is why we, our students and alumni are civically involved.  We believe that our experiences and those of others receiving welfare and living below the poverty line can reveal innovative approaches to policy-making that can change systems and lives for the better.  We are encouraged by the committee response to our testimony and will proceed with planning a policy symposium in spring of 2014 at Hunter College.

We will keep everyone abreast of opportunities to be involved in planning and participating in the event.

If you have any question or suggestions please contact Maureen at:

Warmest regards,

Mo, Dee and Roxy

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WRI’s Leadership Training Program – Applications are now being accepted.

Community Leadership Training Program (Fall 2013-Spring 2014)
*Students with past or current public assistance experience are encouraged to apply*

Applications are being accepted for the Fall 2013 to Spring 2014 Community Leadership Program.  This two semester program explores past and current issues in welfare policy and includes workshops in meeting planning and facilitation, public speaking and community organizing.  The program enhances students’ abilities to participate effectively in public settings and leadership roles.
Classes will be held on Wednesdays from 10:10-1pm.

For more information about the application and registration process, pick up an application at Thomas Hunter Room 207 or call
Dillonna C. Lewis, 212-650-3569/

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Take Action

1) Like Us on Facebook
2) Tweet#S1419
3) Share our Articles and Videos

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NYC Bar Association Panel Discussion: Welfare’s Future in NYC; WRI’s Co-Director, Maureen Lane will be a part of the panel discussion.

Dear Friends,

The NYS legislative session ended without passing bill S1419.  The bill is essential to maximize access to higher education and vocational training programs under federal rules for families and individuals receiving welfare in NYS.  The law will help thousands of students at CUNY and all over the state to stay in school and move from welfare to economic security.

Thank you to WRI students, alums, donors, partners and friends for your collective efforts to rally elected officials.  The bill requires more awareness and greater prioritization on the Senate leadership’s docket and we will continue to fight for the appropriate attention and support this piece of legislation deserves.

Studies show time and again that pushing families into the first low-wage job available ends up in long-term cycling on and off of welfare, whereas, allowing people to earn degrees places them in employment that results in moving from welfare permanently.

We will enlist your support once again this fall as we continue to advocate for college students struggling to stay on track with their studies.

Voting in next election (2014) can have a priorities impact in NYS, NYC and on the U.S. Congressional level.  We urge you to vote.

At WRI, we know getting an education is the surest route out of poverty. This is why we are participating in a special panel discussion about the future of welfare policy under the next administration, hosted by the NYC Bar Association on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 6-7:30pm. At this forum, we have the opportunity to inspire and engage mayoral hopefuls and other city leaders to remove the barriers that too often hold people back from achieving financial independence.  The event is free and open to the public.  Come and add your voice to the process.

If you have any question please contact Maureen at:

Warmest regards,

Mo, Dee and Roxy

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Do You Know Your Rights?

If you are worried about dropping out of school because of public assistance requirements, we can help!


June 26th, 2013

1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Hunter College, East Building

Solarium Room 1413 (14th Floor)

Call 212-650-3592

Admission is FREE!

Come to our FREE workshop and learn how students on public assistance can stay in school without jeopardizing their families’ essential benefits.
This 90-minute session covers topics such as:

· Provisions of the NYS
Work Study/Internship Law

· TAG Program

· WEP (Workfare)

· Fair Hearing Process

Welfare Rights Initiative is dedicated to making education a stepping-stone to life-changing opportunity.

For more information, please visit

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WRI Alert: S1419: Key Senators Need to Know about S1419

Dear friends,

The NYS Legislative session ends June 20th and we still have a chance to make S1419 law.  S1419 allows access to 4-year college and other approved programs for students receiving public assistance.  The Assembly passed their bill in February and we have received positive feedback from our contacts in the Senate.

The message below and phone numbers of key Senators is provided in hopes that you will call and urge them to ask that S1419 come to a vote and pass this session.

Your calls and letters do have an impact in the New York State Legislature.

On behalf of WRI, we want to thank you for your support .

Call NYS Senators On Thursday, June 13, 2013

Please consider contacting the Senators below as well as your own and ask senate leadership to bring S1419 to a vote.

Here is our message:

” We urge you to vote and pass S1419 into law.  New York State can increase the chances of economic success for families receiving welfare by focusing on education and allowing 4-year college and other educational programs to count for work requirements.  Time and again, research has shown that education is one of America’s most successful pathways out of poverty improving student’s future earning capacity.”

Joseph Addabbo (518) 455-2322
Greg Ball (518) 455-3111
John DeFrancisco (518) 455-3511
Martin Malave Dilan (518) 455-2177
Patrick Gallivan (518) 455-3471
Mark Grisanti (518) 455-3240
Kemp Hannon (518) 455-2200
Carl Marcellino (518) 455-2390
Kathleen Marchione (518) 455-2381
Jack Martins (518) 455-3265
Jose Peralta (518) 455-2529
Bill Perkins (518) 455-2441
Gustavo Rivera (518) 455-3395
Joseph Robach (518) 455-2909
James Sanders (518) 455-3531


Joseph A. Griffo  Phone: (518) 455-3334

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WRI Invites you to Know Your Rights!

Welfare Rights Initiative Invites you to


WHY: CUNY has lost over 21,000 students due to counterproductive welfare policy. We cannot lose one more!

WHAT: Provisions of the Work Study/Internship Law, TAG Program, WEP (workfare) and the Fair Hearing Process.

WHEN/WHERE: Wednesday, June 26th Hunter College, East Building, 14th floor, Solarium Room 1413 (1:30pm-3:00pm)

If you are a student who needs more information on your rights or you would like to schedule an appointment, please call our:

Know Your Rights Line: 212-650-3592

Hunter College, TH 207

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Come Celebrate Our 18th Annual Gala: ­Inspire Lives of Leadership.

Come Celebrate Our Students at the Welfare Rights Initiative’s
18th Annual Gala: ­Inspire Lives of Leadership.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Hunter College West, 8th Floor Faculty Dining Room

Join us in honoring special guests:

Lynn Lewis & Professor Thomas Angotti
Picture the Homeless and Hunter College Center For Community Planning & Development (CCPD);
Beatrice Lopez-Tucker
WRI Alum & Former Co-Director
Michelle Rivera
WRI Alum & Former Administrative Coordinator
Irma V. Williams
WRI Alum & MSW Citiwide Harm Reduction; and
WRI Cohort 18 Students
Graduates of the Fall 2012-Spring 2013 Community Leadership Program.

Won’t you please join us to help inspire more lives of leadership?
There are several meaningful ways to show your support:

Sponsorship Levels

WRI Visionary Society $10,000 or more
·   Reserved Table for 10 at the WRI Annual Gala.
·   Sponsor Acknowledgment: Gala Program, Ceremony, Press Materials and Website.
·   Opportunity to present a Community Leadership Award at the WRI Annual Gala.
·   Framed and personalized original artwork by WRI students.

WRI Leadership Circle  $5,000 to $9,999
·   Reserved Table for 10 at the WRI Annual Gala.
·   Sponsor Acknowledgment: Gala Program, Ceremony, Press Materials and Website.

WRI Patrons   $1,000 to $4,999
·   10 tickets to the WRI Annual Gala.
·   Sponsor Acknowledgment: Gala Program and Website.

WRI Advocates  $500 to $999
·   8 tickets to the WRI Annual Gala.
·   Listing in the Gala Program.

WRI Friends    $100 to $499
·   4 tickets to the WRI Annual Gala.
·   Listing in the Gala Program.
WRI General Admission   $50
(WRI Alum Suggested Admission $25)
·   1 ticket to the WRI Annual Gala.

WRI is a nonprofit, student activist and leadership training organization located at Hunter College. For more information about Gala and other
sponsorship opportunities, please contact
Dillonna C. Lewis at 212-650-3569 ( for more information.

Help inspire more lives of leadership, support WRI’s 18th Annual Gala honoring: Lynn Lewis and Professor Thomas Angotti, Picture the Homeless, Hunter College Center for Community Planning & Development (CCPD); WRI alumni Beatrice Lopez-Tucker, Michelle Rivera, and Irma V. Williams; and Cohort 18 Community Leadership Students. Come and celebrate with us on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 from 6:30pm-9pm in Hunter College Faculty Dining Room, 8th floor west building. For more information, please contact

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WRI Student Leaders Go to Albany

Student Leaders Go to Albany
to Make Education Count

On February 27, 2013, Welfare Rights Initiative students brought their determination and personal stories to Albany to remind state policy makers that nothing should deter a person from seeking a quality education.

The focus of the trip was to draw attention to Senate Bill 1419, sponsored by Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn). This proposed legislation would allow baccalaureate and advanced degree programs to count towards work requirements for students receiving public assistance. The Assembly passed A.3473, the companion bill in early February 2013

Thirty WRI and CUNY Law students met with 20 of their New York State (NYS) legislative leaders. After an early morning bus trip from NYC, students arrived to have breakfast and speak to a gathering of over 200 groups representing NYS Empire State Economic Security Campaign (ES2). The day was full of energy and hope for NYS families receiving welfare: Make Education Count!

Each year, Welfare Rights Initiative assists hundreds of undergraduate students on public assistance who are working toward a better future. Reports show workfare programs don’t support long-term economic mobility because these assignments rarely lead to livable wage jobs.

To underscore this point, WRI called on Hunter College student and advocate Christina Chaise, to speak on behalf of young adults like her who face severe obstacles that compromise attempts to pursue higher education as the best way out of poverty. Christina shared her experiences with state legislators and the media:

“As a resident of public housing and a recipient of public assistance, I had internalized the stereotype society imposes upon the people of my community. Well, I am here today to shatter that perception and provide a true resolution that can address poverty: higher education.”

She went on to explain how New York State welfare policy allows two-year college students to count class time towards mandatory work hours, but not four-year college students.

“People enduring economic hardship shouldn’t have to choose between survival and a fighting chance at achieving financial freedom and security. Workers with bachelor’s degrees consistently earn more on the job, $200 more and higher a week, than those with associate’s degree.”

Christina presented other supporting data to accentuate her call for urgent policy change:

“Not only would this bill save administrative costs for the state, it will also expand opportunities for a better quality job and a better quality life for members of our communities. Nearly 90 percent of students receiving welfare who obtain a bachelor’s degree will move permanently off welfare and earn enough to move out of poverty.”

For more details about this recent Welfare Rights Initiative advocacy event, click to read coverage from the NYS Legislative Gazette or visit

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Applying for Financial Aid & Federal Work-Study

Financial Aid Info:

Approximately $90 billion in financial aid money is awarded to college students every year, and sixty-two percent of full-time college students receive financial aid or scholarships to help them pay for school (College Board). Even if you think you won’t qualify for aid, you should apply -it’s free. 

Types of Financial Assistance:

  • Grants – Money that doesn’t have to be repaid
  • Scholarships – Money that doesn’t have to be repaid and usually is awarded on the basis of academic merit
  • Loans – Money for school that you must repay with interest
  • Work-Study- Money earned from a job through your college financial aid office

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) must be completed by everyone who wants federal aid, and most financial aid programs require it. There is no charge for completing the FAFSA. It should be filled out online at as soon after January 1st as possible. The FAFSA form will automatically direct students to the New York State TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) application, which all students must also complete. Although the federal deadline for FAFSA is May 1st, most college deadlines are in February or March. Filing after a deadline will mean less money, so file on time!

Work-Study Questions:

How do I apply?

To be considered for this award, you must fill out your financial aid applications by an established filing deadline and request consideration for FWS by checking the appropriate box on the FAFSA. FWS money is awarded on a first-come, first served basis. The College receives a fixed amount of money each academic year to make FWS awards. Once this money is awarded, there is no more for that academic year. You are encouraged to file your financial aid applications early when you receive your award letter from the College, it will indicate whether or not you have been awarded FWS.

Am I paid an hourly wage or a salary?

You are paid by the hour, your rate of pay being determined by the job location and the nature of the work involved. You will receive at least $7.25 per hour for on-campus positions. The rate of pay can be higher for jobs off-campus but will be no lower than $7.25 per hour.

Are work-study earnings taxable?

The money you earn from Federal Work-Study is generally subject to federal and state income tax, but exempt from FICA taxes (provided you are enrolled full time and work less than half-time).

Federal Work-Study earnings during the calendar year should be included in the totals for AGI on the FAFSA. Work-study earnings should only be included when they represent financial aid to the student, since the answer to this question is used as an exclusion from taxed income. The student should also be careful to report amounts based on the calendar year, not the school year.

For information on financial aid and available scholarships contact the Financial Aid Office at the CUNY College you plan to attend.

General Information on CUNY admissions

212 997-CUNY(2869)


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