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Advocating for Fair Pay, Immigrant Students & More

Posted on February 8, 2018 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Catholic Charities Leaders Advocate in Albany

As the U.S. Congress dukes out how and what to fund to keep our nation great, Catholic Charities leaders took to heart the mantra that all politics are local, banding together in Albany on February 5th and 6th to advocate for services designed to improve New Yorkers’ lives.

Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan joined local Catholic Charities affiliated agencies along with the New York State Council of Catholic Charities Directors that represents all eight dioceses across the state.  Their key issue was that New York State needs to appropriately fund the nonprofit human service agencies on which it depends so they, in turn, can continue to provide the  crucial services that uplift New Yorkers in all walks of life.

Specifically, an agency is only as good as its staff, yet the State has not provided funding to increase salaries for some nonprofit agency workers for over 8 years. This influences not only services these staff provide but also the strength of the State’s economy, agency directors said.   

They met with committee chairs in both houses of the legislature and with representatives from the governor’s office to point out that:

  • Staff from nonprofit organizations make up 20% of New York’s workforce
  • 81% are women
  • 46% are people of color

Fair pay for these workers, predominantly women and people of color, is an equity issue, they said, that directly impacts communities these providers serve.

Moreover, systemic underfunding of government contracts, including workers’ wages, triggers a financially starved sector.  Catholic Charities NY, for example, cobbles together donations and grants along with government contracts to serve New Yorkers in need.  Yet, similar to fellow New York human services nonprofits, demand continually exceeds funding.

Nonprofit agencies like Catholic Charities NY are left to fill the gaps.  This makes it tough to add the capital improvements in infrastructure and technology needed to continue to deliver quality services.

Another key priority Msgr. Sullivan and fellow Catholic Charities leaders discussed was their support for Governor Cuomo’s proposal to provide college opportunities for immigrant students. The DREAM Act, a proposal supported by Catholic Charities leaders would override statutes that cut off  students without  lawful immigrant status from government-funded scholarships and state financial aid.  Instead, the proposed legislation would allow immigrant students to complete college, get better jobs, improve opportunities for their families and communities and better contribute to the nation’s economy.  

In short, Msgr. Sullivan and fellow Catholic Charities directors said, where the state puts its money represents where its priorities are.