Funds Secured in Budget for
Latino U College Access (LUCA)
New York State Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Shelley B. Mayer, Assemblymember Amy Paulin, and Assemblymember Chris Burdick 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.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “For the past decade, LUCA has been making the dream of attending college a reality for first-generation Latino students in Westchester County. That’s why I led the State Senate in securing funding for the organization in this year’s State Budget. It will allow LUCA to expand its services to more of our communities, opening the doors to higher education for so many deserving students.”
Senator Shelley B. Mayer said, “Oftentimes, navigating the college application process and beyond can be difficult and intimidating, especially for first-generation students and their families. I was proud to advocate for Latino U College Access to make college education more accessible to the residents of our district and Westchester County. Thank you to LUCA for opening educational opportunities by supporting our students and their families.”
Assemblymember Amy Paulin said, “I’m thrilled to have been able to help Latino U achieve significant program funding from the NYS Assembly to support their mission of making college a reality for first generation Latino Americans in Westchester County. Having recently met with several graduates aided by LUCA who will be attending college this fall, I was incredibly impressed and inspired by their stories and achievements. Thank you LUCA for providing the support and assistance needed to so many Westchester Latino high school students and their families, helping them to achieve their college dreams.”
LUCA Executive Director Cosette Gutierrez said: “We are extremely grateful for the support of the New York State Senate and Assembly. This generous funding will allow Latino U College Access to deepen existing school partnerships and expand programming into additional high Latino serving school districts throughout Westchester County, opening doors of opportunity for the students and families in Port Chester, Peekskill, New Rochelle, and Bedford. We are honored to be included in the state budget and look forward to supporting even more first-generation students as they enroll and succeed in college.”
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.
Assemblyman Steve Otis said, “I am thrilled that we were able to include funding in the state budget to expand the Latino U College Access program. Westchester students will have another opportunity to follow their academic dreams through these additional funds.”
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.”