senatefloorUnivision featured a story on legislation Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez passed out of the Illinois Senate that would make undocumented students eligible to compete for state-based financial aid.

Known as the Student Access Bill, Martinez’s proposal would help 1,500 students from Illinois’ public universities receive new scholarship opportunities.

The Student Access Bill is being supported by public universities, business and civic leaders, faith-based leaders, labor unions and nonprofit organizations.

Univision’s story can be found here. You can also click here to listen to Martinez’s remarks on the Senate floor about the Student Access Bill.


Category: Blog Post

Blood Donation presserMajority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) and State Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin) joined the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers at a press conference to promote blood donation during Minority Health Month.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services designates April as Minority Health Month to draw attention to health-related disparities that affect minorities.

“It’s very important that we educate the Latino community about the importance of becoming blood donors,” said Martinez, who is co-chairwoman of the Latino Caucus. “The majority of Latinos have type O blood, which is in high demand because it can be transfused to patients with other blood types.”

Latinos are the largest minority group, but make up less than 4 percent of blood donors. Additionally, Latinos only make up 10 percent of people on the National Bone Marrow Registry. African Americans also have low blood donation and Bone Marrow Registry participation rates.

“In my own district, nearly 40 percent of people are of Latino and African American descent,” said Noland. “It is imperative that we raise awareness in these communities for donating blood and bone marrow. This is not just a one-time issue; it is an everyday concern and one that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.”

It is estimated that one blood donation can save up to three lives. For contact information for community blood centers, please click here.


Category: Blog Post

mapgrant moneyFor Jonathan Bello, a college education offers a step up the socio-economic ladder and path out of the gang neighborhoods he grew up in on the South Side.

For Trisha Rodriguez, her path to a degree is her path toward a better future. It’s why she works all summer back home in Belvidere to save what she can.

Bello, a 19-year-old freshman at Loyola University’s Arrupe College, and Rodriguez, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Illinois in Champaign, are just two of the nearly 130,000 low-income students in Illinois who rely on the grants from the state’s leading financial aid program in order to continue their education.

Unfortunately for them, Gov. Bruce Rauner keeps eliminating that financial aid program, known as the Monetary Award Program (MAP). He’s repeatedly vetoed the program, the latest rejection coming last week and just days after Bello and Rodriguez travelled to the Capitol to help deliver legislation keeping the MAP program alive to the governor’s office.

His action jeopardizes the college careers of thousands of students at public and private schools across Illinois. Many students – including Bello and Rodriguez – are the first in their families to attend college. Rauner’s cuts disproportionately hit minority students: 22 percent of MAP recipients are African American, another 20 percent are Latino.

What’s ironic is that we, the Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate, first sent the MAP financial aid budget to the governor as a standalone proposal back in May in the hope that it would not fall victim to his politics. We wanted to give him a clean opportunity to back up his commitment to making education a priority.

Instead, he has now twice used his veto pen to try to eliminate any chance of these students getting the financial aid his administration promised nearly a year ago. The governor’s actions are forcing current students to abandon their studies and sending prospective college students to other states that value higher education and the economic activity that comes with it.

This from a governor who told the people of Illinois he’d make the state more competitive and compassionate. Ask Jonathan and Trisha how that’s working out.

Crushing children’s college dreams and destroying our higher education system does neither.

Next week, the General Assembly will return to session with the opportunity to override the governor’s veto and restore the MAP program. If you care about the future of Illinois, understand the value of higher education and believe the state should honor its commitment to students, I hope you will join with me in calling on lawmakers to do the right thing and restore MAP.

From: Senator Iris Y. Martinez

Category: Blog Post

Martinez Fair Web PostMajority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) held a successful Family Wellness and Back to School Fair this month at Avondale Logandale School.

Hundreds of children turned out for free backpacks, immunizations, health screenings, physicals, dental checkups, hair cuts and other essential services.

"Our children are our future, and it's imperative that they start the school year in good health," Martinez said. "When kids are healthy, they are better prepared to learn in the classroom."

Adults in attendance were also able to receive health screenings, such as blood pressure and cholesterol checks and learn about services offered by government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

"I would like to thank all of the vendors and volunteers who made this event possible," Martinez said. "Their commitment to service and dedication to helping others is admirable and inspires me to be the best public servant I can be for our community."

Martinez annually hosts the Family Wellness and Back to School Fair. This year, she partnered with State Representative Jaime Andrade (D-Chicago) to hold the event.

Category: Blog Post

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