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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

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.

Jul 21, 2014 In The News

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) announced Alameda-based Institute for Women in Trades, Technology and Science (IWITTS) will receive a $899,841grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to increase enrollment and retention of women in community college STEM courses.

Jul 19, 2014 In The News

ALAMEDA (CBS SF) — Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, announced Thursday a federal grant of nearly $900,000 for an Alameda-based organization that helps to close the gender gap for women and girls in male-dominated careers.
The Institute for Women in Trades, Technology and Science (IWITTS) will receive the $899,841 grant from the National Science Foundation to help increase enrollment and retention of women in community college science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses.

Jul 8, 2014 In The News

A trio of US Democratic congresswomen have criticized top tech firms' lack of diversity.

In an op-ed for The San Jose Mercury News, California Representatives Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo and Barbara Lee called out Silicon Valley's technology houses for the low numbers of women and minorities in their ranks.

"It is painfully clear the sector faces a persistent and troubling deficit when it comes to women, African-Americans and Latinos," the trio wrote.

Jul 3, 2014 In The News

Rep. Barbara Lee visited three research facilities Wednesday at UC Berkeley, her alma mater, to learn about advanced manufacturing and innovation on campus, which may receive additional federal funding under legislation she co-sponsored.

Laboratory managers showed Lee recent projects such as 3-D printing, laser cutting and nanofabrication. Though impressed, she was concerned about the lack of diversity in campus science programs. Since attending UC Berkeley for her master’s degree 39 years ago, she said, the percentage of underrepresented minority students on campus has fallen.