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Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Representing the 13th District of California


Congresswoman Barbara Lee believes that equal access to high-quality, public school education is critical to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to succeed.  Congresswoman Lee is dedicated to providing ample funding for public schools, expanding support services, including school counseling, and facilitating lifetime learning by making early education and higher education affordable and accessible.Congresswoman Lee

Congress must maximize student achievement and close the achievement gap between wealthy and poor students. To accomplish these goals, Congresswoman Lee supports investments to reduce class size, expand early childhood education and after school programs, and improve professional development for teachers. These investments are necessary to prepare our children for higher education and careers in the global economy.

Additionally, Congresswoman Lee believes that no student should have to give up his or her dream of achieving a higher education simply because it’s too expensive. For millions of students, college affordability is a key factor in accessing higher education. Because of this, Congresswoman Lee is a strong supporter of federal investments in education, including protecting access through Pell Grants, low student loan rates and student loan forgiveness. She is also a champion of minority-serving institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which continue to provide quality education opportunities for communities of color.


  • Protecting Access to Higher Education through Pell Grants: The cost of higher education shouldn’t prevent hardworking students from getting a college diploma. The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based financial aid to students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to go to college. Congresswoman Lee will continue to fight for increased funding for Pell Grants, which help millions of low- and middle-income families.Congresswoman Lee
  • Real Education for Healthy Youth Act: Congresswoman Lee firmly believes that all students should have access to potentially life-saving health and sex education programs. That is why she has introduced H.R. 725, a bill that authorizes grants for comprehensive sex-education programs so that American youth can make educated decisions about their health. This legislation, which is inclusive of LGBT students, would provide students with the information to prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections, and would end federal spending on ineffective, medically inaccurate sex-education programs. 
  • Strong Support for Community Colleges: Community colleges provide opportunities for millions to continue their education in a flexible and affordable environment. Students attend community colleges for a range of reasons: as a first step to earning a bachelor’s degree, an opportunity to gain workforce training, or simply a chance to learn or improve a skill. As a result, community colleges are incredibly diverse and attract students from all walks of life. Congresswoman Lee is a strong advocate for community colleges and is committed to ensuring that they are fully funded.
  • Protecting Funding and Access to After School Programs: After school programs are of vital importance for the millions of working families who need a safe, enriching environment for their children after the school day ends. But right now in California, nearly a quarter of all kids lack adequate afterschool care. Ensuring that students have someplace to go after school is critical to improving our education system and the lives of working families.
  • Increasing Funding for Head Start:  Head Start is central to ensuring low-income children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed. That is why Congresswoman Lee is proud to cosponsor H.R. 3461, The Strong Start for America’s Children Act of 2013. This legislation would increase access to preschool for children of low-income families, fund Head Start and childcare programs, and would continue support for evidence-based home visitation programs. As a senior member of the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, which is responsible for funding education programs like HeadStart, Congresswoman Lee will keep up the fight to provide all infants and toddlers with the education they deserve.


  • Federal Research Grants for UC Berkeley: The East Bay is a major center for education, research, and innovation. Congresswoman Lee has seen firsthand the value that these sectors bring to communities. She has long advocated for robust federal funding for the East Bay, including $950,000 from the National Science Foundation for three research projects on the UC Berkeley campus in 2013.
  • Improving and Expanding STEM Education Programs: The Bay Area’s reputation as the center of technological innovation is well-deserved. Northern California is engineering the technologies of the future, and making people’s lives more efficient, convenient, and comfortable. Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs in schools are critical to ensuring we continue to lead the world in innovation. Congresswoman Lee is a member of the House STEM education caucus, and has fought for programs like the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Act. In 2012, she was able to secure a $1 million increase for this program which supports diversity in STEM careers.




More on Education

Apr 22, 2015 Press Release

Washington DC – Congresswoman Barbara Lee released the following statement in support of the Congressional Progressive Caucus resolution to give students access to debt-free college:

“I am proud to join my colleagues in the Congressional Progressive Caucus in introducing this resolution calling for debt-free college for all.

Apr 10, 2015 Press Release

Oakland, CA – Each year, on April 10th, Congress marks National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This year’s theme is “Engaging Youth Voices in the Response to HIV & AIDS.”

“National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an important way to increase awareness about HIV and its impact on young people in this country,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, co-chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus.

Apr 9, 2015 Op Eds and Blog

Today, many families in the East Bay face serious challenges.

Some are working two or three jobs and still struggling to make ends meet.

Many face the terrible reality of hunger and homelessness.

Others are fighting to get their young children into Head Start programs to give them a jump-start in life, while others struggle to afford a college education or get their children into quality after-school programs.

Apr 1, 2015 Press Release

Oakland, CA – Today, Congresswoman Lee held a press conference to discuss the disastrous implications of the GOP Budget on East Bay families. The budget makes severe cuts to Head Start programs as well as K-12 and higher education.

Congresswoman Lee was joined by Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Antwan Wilson, City of Oakland Head Start Division Manager Usana Hopkins and Peralta College Board of Trustees President Meredith Brown.

Mar 18, 2015 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Lee announced her co-sponsorship of Congressman Joe Courtney’s (D-CT) Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act of 2015. The bill would allow borrowers to refinance their students loans to a lower rate, similar to the rate available on new student loans. Some borrowers could refinance undergraduate loans at 3.86 percent.

Mar 13, 2015 Press Release

Oakland, CA – Today, Congresswoman Lee visited the Think College Now School in Oakland’s Fruitvale District as a part of her commitment to education and literacy. The program is based in an Oakland Unified School District elementary school.

The Congresswoman worked with students and their community volunteer tutors on their assignments and read aloud with the group.

Feb 2, 2015 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee released the following statement in response to President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Proposal:

“Today, the President presented a budget to Congress that helps ensure the American dream is open and accessible to all.

Our economy continues to recover from the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression, yet that recovery remains unequal. The President’s Budget Proposal is a framework for addressing income inequality and supports families seeking ladders of opportunity into the middle class.

Dec 17, 2014 Press Release

Oakland, CA – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator, Jared Blumenfeld, presented a $600,000 grant to the Public Health Institute’s Regional Asthma Management & Prevention, in Oakland. This grant will help school-based health centers nationwide prevent and manage environmental asthma triggers for children at school and at home.

Aug 29, 2014 Op Eds and Blog
I am a proud Golden Bear, one of thousands who received a world-class education at UC Berkeley. I cherish the education I received under the guidance of fantastic faculty and in collaboration with brilliant fellow students. Here at UC Berkeley, I received my Masters of Social Work. My studies were driven by a conviction that every American should have the resources and opportunities to succeed. That philosophy must be at the heart of our nation’s higher education system.
Aug 19, 2014 Press Release

Oakland, CA – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) announced a $1,900,191 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to the University of California-Berkeley. The grant will fund a five year project to investigate clean energy-focus intervention models to improve learning and career awareness amongst students 14-16.

“I am excited to announce this funding for the University of California-Berkeley to ensure that our nation’s next generation of scientists and engineers undertake the important challenges of securing our clean energy future,” said Congresswoman Lee.