On Wednesday, April 21, members of Stony Brook University’s (SBU) Advocacy Corps met virtually with representatives of the offices of Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Lee Zeldin to advocate for bold funding increases for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and increased federal funding for crucial student financial aid programs. Specifically, Advocacy Corps members conveyed their strong support for the NSF funding increases included in The Endless Frontier Act (EFA) in addition to doubling federal funding for the Pell Grant program.
“The Stony Brook Advocacy Corps strongly believes Leader Schumer’s Endless Frontier Act would provide NSF with the necessary transformational funding to address both America’s short-term and long-term plan to maintain U.S. leadership in key technology areas including AI, 5G and quantum computing,” said Anne Green, Undergraduate Coordinator for the Center for Civic Justice and an undergraduate studying environmental design, policy and planning. Additionally, Zared Shawver, the Graduate Student Organization’s Policy Chair and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology, expressed that “the bill’s proposed Regional Technology Hubs would attract critical new investment for advancing innovation capacity through regional workforce and infrastructure development while integrating diversity pipeline programs as a part of the process.”
The Endless Frontier Act proposes an expansion of NSF with the establishment of a new Technology and Innovation Directorate within NSF to advance research and development in 10 key technology focus areas, including artificial intelligence, semiconductors, quantum computing, advanced communications, biotechnology and advanced energy. The newly established Technology and Innovation Directorate would receive $100 billion over five years to invest in basic and advanced research, commercialization, and education and training programs in technology areas critical to national leadership. An additional $10 billion would be authorized at the Department of Commerce to support regional technology strategies and to designate at least 10 regional technology hubs, awarding funds for comprehensive investment initiatives that position regions across the country as global centers for the research, development, entrepreneurship and manufacturing of new key technologies. Stony Brook University has conveyed support for the bill, but continues discussions with Leader Schumer’s staff to ensure that any proposed amendments that would pose significant harm to university research and our nation’s competitiveness are excluded from the final version of the enacted legislation.
During the virtual Hill meetings, SBU Advocacy Corps members also urged Congress to provide at least $67 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding in Fiscal Year 2022 for the Pell Grant program so that the maximum individual Pell award can be increased to $12,990, which is double the current maximum award.
“A third of Stony Brook undergraduates receive Pell Grants and Pell Grant recipients at Stony Brook graduate at higher rates than non-recipients,” said Huntley Spencer, former President of the SBU Undergraduate Student Government and an undergraduate studying political science and sociology. “Pell Grants have helped students like me pursue my college education. The Pell Grant program is the single most important tool to enable low-income students to afford college, providing more than 7 million students with grants each year according to the U.S. Department of Education,” Spencer continued.
Launched in 2021 by SBU’s Office of Government Relations, the Stony Brook Advocacy Corps develops students into effective policy advocates who participate in policy briefings related to federal financial aid, scientific research, diversity and inclusion, immigration reform, and other higher education priorities provided by SBU’s Office of Federal Relations based in Washington, D.C. Subsequently, SBU Advocacy Corps members meet with Congressional members and staff virtually to advocate for SBU priorities.
Stony Brook’s Office of Federal Relations continues to work with Advocacy Corps members, university partners from across the nation, and the New York Congressional Delegation to increase federal funding for scientific research and student financial aid.