Welfare Rights Initiative Community Leadership Program Cohort 22
Albany Day – March 1, 2017
“Participatory governance is the heartbeat of our democracy.”
-Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York City Council Speaker
At WRI, we believe it is necessary and appropriate for people with firsthand experience of poverty to be included in the planning, design, and implementation of a better welfare system. To this end, WRI is giving students receiving public assistance the encouragement and ability to gain analytical, political and economic literacy skills that help them become more effective self-advocates and civic leaders.
This academic year, our Community Leadership Program students joined second-year law students from our Economic Justice Project collaboration with CUNY School of Law for the annual Advocacy Day fieldtrip to Albany. Students researched their legislative representatives, scheduled in-person meetings, and facilitated small group discussions to share their proposed solutions for opening access to education for all.
Over the years, WRI’s student-led advocacy efforts have yielded several positive changes. In 2014, we pushed for and secured the rights of students to attend 4-year college while maintaining their eligibility for public benefits. Together with the WRI Alumni Advisory Board, we continue to work closely with legislators, elected officials, philanthropists, and government agencies to promote a progressive, inclusive economic agenda and ensure proper implementation of laws and policies that support making education a pathway out of poverty.