A trio of community programs in Boston may see a boost of more than $2 million in the next fiscal year, Rep. Ayanna Pressley announced this week.
The proposed $2.3 million in federal funding for the city, if approved as part of the fiscal year 2022 federal budget, would expand Boston’s tuition-free community college program, bolster the Dimock Center’s substance use treatment and programming, and help the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology launch a green jobs Building Automation System associates degree program.
The federal spending is part of a series of Community Project Funding requests Pressley submitted to the House Appropriations Committee — and it’s now included in the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill, Pressley’s office told MassLive. The Massachusetts Democrat says she’ll keep fighting for the funding as the bill moves to the House floor and “until the ink is dry on the president’s signature.”
“COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated many of the stark inequities facing Boston residents, and our health and education systems are no exception,” she said. “Funding these three projects, which aim to support our students, people recovering from substance use disorder and those seeking good-paying careers in green jobs, will go a long way toward building a just and equitable recovery for everyone who calls Boston home.”
In a statement, Boston Mayor Kim Janey thanked Pressley for her advocacy for community residents.
“Investments in tuition-free community college, treatment for substance use disorders, and new green jobs training will create pipelines of opportunity for the communities hardest hit by COVID-19,” Janey said. “This allocation of $2.3 million of federal funding is an opportunity to strengthen Boston’s continued recovery from the pandemic and address the inequities that contribute to gaps in health, education, and employment outcomes.”
If approved as part of the final 2022 budget, $1 million will go toward helping low- and moderate-income students cover tuition and related expenses as they look to complete programs in Greater Boston’s six partner community and technical colleges. One million dollars would also go to the Dimock Center, increasing the center’s availability to provide substance use disorder treatment to residents of Roxbury and neighboring communities, Pressley’s office said. And the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology would see an influx of $300,000 in federal funding, helping the school create a Building Automation System certificate and associate degree program that could bolster students’ chances for good-paying jobs in the burgeoning clean energy sector.
“We share Congresswoman Pressley’s belief that the continued growth of the clean tech industry can be leveraged to create economic opportunity in District-7,” Dr. Aisha Francis, president and CEO of Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, said in a statement. “Funding for technical training in future-focused fields at BFIT assures that our students — 74% of whom are people of color and almost 60% are the first generation to attend college — are well qualified for high-demand, good paying green jobs. We thank Congresswoman Pressley for her advocacy and urge Congress to support this critical initiative.”
Dr. Charles Anderson, president and CEO of the Dimock Center, said in a statement that the number of drug-related deaths in the U.S. last year was the highest ever reported.
“In Massachusetts, the opioid-related death rate increased by 69% among Black men,” he added. “Providing services in communities which are being hardest hit is important to addressing this issue and moving us closer to achieving health equity. This funding will allow the Dimock Center to provide access to vital clinical stabilization services (CSS) after acute detox on the same campus. This expansion of our evidence-based system of care is critical to supporting recovery and saving lives!”
Pressley’s office noted the congresswoman is looking to advance funding for about a half dozen other community projects; status updates on the requests should come within days. For more on the requests, read here.
Democrats and Republicans are currently hashing out a $1 trillion infrastructure package just as progressives press for a host of measures to be included in the annual budget reconciliation bill — which won’t require Republican support.
Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, as well as Pressley, are among dozens of Democrats pushing congressional leaders to include a Civilian Climate Corps in the reconciliation bill. The corps — which was included in President Joe Biden’s initial $2 trillion infrastructure proposal before he trimmed it to negotiate with Republicans — would create one million-plus union jobs that bolster energy and climate projects across the country.