Parents and students travel to state capitol to push for investment in education, child care

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. Rochester students and families left for Albany to lobby lawmakers for more money for education and child care on Wednesday.

These are topics Gov. Hochul touched on in her state of the state address as part of her foundation aid program. Foundation aid essentially takes district’s unique needs into account when allocating funding.

The teen empowerment program is the group that left for the capital Wednesday morning. Many of the students we talked to said they hope to make their voices heard at the state level, hoping to convince lawmakers to make children and families a priority in the upcoming state budget and push for justice in education.

“I’m hoping to get answers … about why are we not receiving what we need to be able to learn,” Fulton said.

Teen empowerment youth organizer Javon Fulton is just one student heading to the state capital hoping to be involved in state leaders’ decisions, especially when it comes to funding for his education.

“This is important to me because not only am I impacting what might happen in my future, but I’m also impacting other people’s future and other generations,” Fulton said.

He, several of his peers and Teen Empowerment Program Coordinator James Kegler say students need to not only be able to advocate for their own needs but to also gain a sense of understanding at the state level.

“To recognize that we’ve won the foundation aid and the government needs to be able to do what they need to do with the money and the young people know that,” Kegler said. “And it’s more powerful hearing it from the young people because a lot of these decisions they’re kept out the loop.”

Hoping that state leaders also understand what issues students face in real-time and what’s impacting them the most.

“A lot of the things we need or that the young people need in order to solidify a successful future, they don’t have say in,” Kegler said. “So how do we really know what will be successful or not successful unless we’re involving a demographic that needs to be impacted the most?”

Students are being a voice for other students, hoping to make a change.

“I love speaking out for people and I also love being in the community and helping the community out as much as I can, so this job was really something special to me,” School of the Arts freshman Emily Ramos said. “And I feel like I actually fit in somewhere I can belong.”

Students are expected to return to Rochester on Wednesday. The new budget will take effect on April 1.