HCC Holds Fund Our Future Event
An Article by Ann Matica
Speakers at Fund Our Future Event Push for More Funding for Public Education
March 31, 2019
As people filled in to the Holyoke Community College library, students, faculty, and staff
all had one thing on their minds: the future of funding for public education.
During the Holyoke Community College Fund Our Future event that took place on
Monday March 18, HCC President Christina Royal was joined by Sen. Jo Comerford,
Massachusetts Rep. Aaron Vega, and Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse to discuss the importance of
funding for public schools and colleges in Massachusetts.
The HCC event was held just days before the higher education lobby day that took place
at the Massachusetts State House on March 21st. Both events promoted the Cherish Act bill that
will, according to the Fund Our Future campaign, correct the $574 million dollar underfunding
of public colleges and universities. The Promise Act is another bill that aims to correct the states
outdated foundation budget that was created in 1993 that has resulted in the underfunding of
public schools K-12 by more than $1 billion dollars a year.
HCC President Royal emphasized the impact The Cherish Act would have on colleges
and universities throughout the state and at HCC. “This issue is a community issue, not just a
higher ed issue,” said President Royal.While HCC has the lowest tuition rates of surrounding
community colleges, this has not completely protected students from debt or fee expenses.
With Massachusetts students currently amassing $33.3 billion dollars of college debt, the
Cherish Act seeks to lower tuition and fees for students. The bill aims to restore funding to
public colleges and universities and to freeze tuition, relieving some of the college debt for
students at HCC and throughout the state.
Senator Comerford said that The Cherish Act and The Promise Act should be looked at as
a new state investment that will help the future of education and the economy in Massachusetts.
“Greater investment in higher education is a win-win situation,” Comerford said.
While Massachusetts is reported to have some of the best education rates in the country,
It also has some of the largest education gaps due to lack of financial backing for public
education. “It’s great to be number one but who are we leaving behind,” State Rep. Vega said.
The aim of both bills is to help advance resources for the economically disadvantaged, and those
in need of special education, while simultaneously making a commitment to financial
The bills will implement a tiered growth plan that will supply the appropriate amount of
funding over time to public schools and higher education institutions. “The trick is to do
something soon so that it gets implemented for the new school year,” Vega said.
Holyoke resident and HCC student Fletcher Bullock, 19, attended the Fund
Our Future event and was optimistic about the future of both The Cherish Act and The Promise
Act. “I think it’s a brilliant idea that will be able to help the disadvantaged with a head start,” he
The event was just one of many Fund Our Future gatherings that are kickstarting the
conversations between public education institutions and state politicians. While Stephanie
Marcotte, president of the MCCC union at HCC, facilitated a Q & A with the speakers,
commitment forms were passed around that promoted ways in which the audience could
contribute to the Fund Our Future campaign.
A field representative for the MCCC, Catherine Santiago encouraged those affected by
the underfunding to attend a day of action at the State House on May 16. “Students — but also
really anyone in the community — should get involved,” said Santiago.