Governor Cuomo Announces 2019 Women's Justice Agenda Proposal to Launch Family Empowerment Community College Pilot Program

February 21, 2019

From the office of Governor Cuomo

Provides Child Care, Tutoring, Career Counseling and Customized Support for Single Parents Attending SUNY and CUNY College Campuses

Helps Close the Gender Wage Gap and Helps Parents Lift Themselves and Their Children Out of Poverty

Part of Governor's 2019 Women's Justice Agenda: Bold, Comprehensive Proposals to Improve Reproductive, Economic and Social Justice for All New York Women

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a proposal in the 2019 Women's Justice Agenda to launch the Family Empowerment Community College Pilot Program to support single parents. This innovative program will support up to 400 single parents annually attending SUNY and CUNY community college campuses. Participants will receive on-campus child care, intensive personalized advisement, educational supports including tutoring, career counseling and assistance in transitioning to a four-year school. The program supports the Governor's efforts to ensure pay equity and close the gender wage gap, provides single parents access to higher education opportunities, and help single parents to move themselves and their children out of poverty.

"Access to child care can make all the difference in the life of a single parent who often has to choose between going to classes or caring for their children," Governor Cuomo said. "By providing child care and other important resources to single parents attending SUNY and CUNY schools, we are opening new doors to opportunity and making a critical investment in the future of our State."

"As a mother, I know how important it is to have access to quality child care to help balance responsibilities both inside and outside the home," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Co-Chair of the Child Care Availability Task Force. "We want to ensure that single parents are provided with the resources they need, including child care and career counseling, to pursue a college education and ensure professional success. As part of the 2019 Women's Justice Agenda, this program will continue our efforts to eliminate the gender wage gap and advance equality for all New Yorkers."

"Single mothers in New York are disproportionately impacted by the gender wage gap, and we will not continue a cycle where women are being held back, while men continue to propel ahead," Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor and Chair of the Council on Women and Girls, said. "Women must be allowed the same chances to succeed in life, and they should not have to put their education on hold because of lack of child care. The Governor's Community College Pilot Program provides customized support, including on-campus child care, at participating SUNY and CUNY schools, ensuring parents, especially single mothers, have the resources they need to achieve a brighter future for themselves and for their children."

New York State is a national leader in ensuring pay equity between genders. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York has succeeded in achieving the smallest wage gap in the nation, with women earning the equivalent of 89 cents to each man's dollar. Nationally, women earn just 80 percent of what men do overall. However, women in the State of New York continue to be impacted by the gender wage gap, especially women of color and single mothers. 

According to research from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, access to higher education is a tested anti-poverty strategy for single mothers. However, single mothers face unique challenges in college or workforce credential completion, and access to child care is a major factor. A study of single mothers at Monroe Community College found that student parents who used the campus child care center had an on-time graduation rate that was more than three times higher than those who did not use campus child care. 

This proposal is included in the Governor's 2019 Women's Justice Agenda. This bold, comprehensive set of proposals builds on the success of the Governor's 2018 accomplishments to improve reproductive, economic and social justice for all New York women. The full 2019 Women's Justice Agenda is available here.

SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said, "SUNY fully supports this proposal and will be welcome news to the countless women struggling to advance their careers. I applaud Governor Cuomo for once again fighting for women's rights and uncovering common sense proposals to strengthen families and provide real and attainable educational opportunities for women to succeed."

CUNY Interim Chancellor Vita C. Rabinowitz said, "Gov. Cuomo's proposal to support CUNY and SUNY students who are single parents is an inspired and important initiative of his Women's Justice Agenda. It is a recognition that life circumstances can have a major impact on the ability of many community college women to earn their degrees and pursue careers with choices, opportunities, and living wages. Based on research evidence, we are optimistic that this pilot program will demonstrate an effective way to help diminish the wage gap and advance New York women."

Dina Bakst, Co-Founder and Co-President of a Better Balance said, "Governor Cuomo's Family Empowerment Community College Pilot Program is exactly the type of innovative solution New York needs to help close the gender wage gap, especially for women of color and single mothers. All too often, single mothers are unable to access higher education and job opportunities. By providing women with everything from on-campus childcare to advisement and educational supports, the Pilot Program will help lift women out of poverty and set them up for economic success."

Sheri Scavone, Executive Director of the WNY Women's Foundation said, "Successful completion of an associate college degree can be the pivotable step in moving a single mother family out of, and breaking the inter-generational cycle of, poverty. Through research, public education and strategic 2-generation programming with community college partners, the WNY Women's Foundation has worked to build recognition of the crucial difference a family sustaining job can make in the life of a single mother and the children who depend upon her. We are thrilled that Governor Cuomo has recognized the barriers to a single mother completing a college education."

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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