Campaign for Additional $1 Million for Loan Forgiveness
Reception for State Senators
“At first I was pretty intimidated with the idea of introducing myself to a senator and talking about loan forgiveness. I was worried that they wouldn’t take my concerns seriously. But Senator Savino was really receptive, which made me comfortable letting her know what an important issue loan forgiveness is to me.” This statement from Katie Webb, an NYU student, about ease in talking to a senator, was echoed throughout the event.
On Thursday, January 17, 2008, sixty-three social work students, new professionals and regular social workers attended a reception at NASW headquarters for State Senators to encourage their becoming advocates for adding another $1 million to the Social Worker Loan Forgiveness Program. The reception, sponsored by State Senators John Sampson and Diane Savino, was attended by eight New York State Senators, with an additional two sending representatives.
In 2006, the Social Worker Loan Forgiveness Program received $1 million from the State Legislature. One hundred forty-one social workers who met the established criteria, one of which is employment in a critical human service area, have received a maximum of $26,000 over four years. NASW-NYC is gearing up for securing an additional $1 million.
Senators Diane Savino (S.I./Bklyn), John Sampson (Bklyn), Eric Adams (Bklyn), Martin Connor (Man/Bklyn), Tom Duane (Man), Velmanette Montgomery (Bklyn), John Sabini (Queens), and Eric Schneiderman (Man/Bx) attended. Senator Liz Krueger (Man) sent a representative. All agreed this was an impressive showing of so many Senators at one event.
Senator Savino spoke about her history working for the city’s child welfare agency and remembering the respect she had for underpaid co-workers who were also struggling to get their masters degree in social work.
NASW-NYC outreach helped make the event successful. The names of student and new professional members (the group most effected by loan forgiveness) were sorted by State Senate district. Each member their State Senator’s name, an example email to send, and the number of social workers in that Senate district, to demonstrate NASW’s potential voting impact.
Members contacted their Senator. Typical responses were, “Got the NASW e-mail…and wanted to let you know that I have written to my Senator. Thank you for all your efforts on the profession’s behalf.” and, “Thank you for providing us with an opportunity to directly advocate for loan forgiveness.”
Senators who attended commented on the atmosphere of the event. Senators Savino and Sampson promised to move ahead by involving the rest of their colleagues in the pursuit of an additional $1 million.
During the 2008 legislative session, we also anticipate that continuing outreach will be needed to gain the full amount of funding needed to expand the loan forgiveness program. Any support that our members and others we work in coalition with can provide will help in our ongoing advocacy.
NASW-NYC will fully involve our students and new professionals as events unfold.