New York State Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Shelley B. Mayer, Assemblymember Amy Paulin, and Assemblymember Chris Burdick today highlighted $350,000 secured in the New York State budget for Latino U College Access (LUCA).
LUCA empowers first-generation Latino youth on their path to college and graduation through individualized mentorship and culturally relevant, bilingual programming for students and their families. The funding will be used to increase services in White Plains, Ossining, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown and Elmsford, and expand services to Port Chester, New Rochelle, Peekskill, Bedford and Mount Kisco.
Since LUCA was founded in 2012, 6,376 students and parents have received support through community programming. The programming focuses on important steps on the path to higher education including preparing for college while in high school, picking a college that is the right fit for the student, applying for college, and financing higher education.
LUCA Board Chairman Steve Moroney said: “On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to extend our heartfelt appreciation to the New York State Senators and Assemblymembers who made this incredible funding possible. Your support will allow our organization to enter its next phase of expansion and serve even more dedicated students as they become the first in their families to attend college. Thank you all for your belief in our Scholars, your confidence in our mission, and everything you do to elevate our community.”
Students in LUCA’s Scholars program receive mentorship from high school through college. From 2013 to 2022, 332 scholars have been enrolled in the program, of which 93 percent attend four-year colleges and universities, and 99 percent remain on track to graduate in four to six years.
Latino U Scholar Jocelyn Nieto said: “While reflecting on my academic and professional journey, I am positive that achieving my goals was thanks in great part to the unconditional support of the LUCA Familia. As a first-generation student, there is an overwhelming amount of anxiety surrounding the college process and the world after graduation. Thankfully, I always had LUCA’s support. Being a Latino U Scholar means being part of a devoted community who will fight fearlessly to see through the success of promising Latino youth.”
Latino U Scholar Kate Hidalgo said: “When I was selected as a Latino U Scholar, I was excited and relieved. What I didn’t realize at the time was how much more being a Scholar would mean. LUCA understands that, when you are a first-gen, it is not only the student applying to college, but the whole family. LUCA completely changed my life. They encouraged me when all I felt was doubt and pushed me because they recognized the potential in me, even when I didn’t. I have not only been able to accomplish my dreams, but I have also gained a second family.”