Statement from Dwayne Ashley, CEO, Thurgood Marshall College Fund Regarding the Death of Senator Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy

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Statement from Dwayne Ashley, CEO, Thurgood Marshall College Fund
Regarding the Death of Senator Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy
Stellar Politician with 50 years in the United States Senate Helped Shape the Landscape of America’s Educational System

NEW YORK, August 27, 2009 – The Thurgood Marshall College Fund mourns the loss of Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy (D), an American political icon, whose years of public service and bipartisan advocacy on behalf of elementary and secondary education, and higher education, health care and many other areas has earned him the title “Lion of the Senate.” Kennedy, during his tenure in the Senate sponsored or championed more than 2,500 bills that have been the building blocks of American social structure. He has been a real leader in civil rights, health care reform and education.

He was an advocate for the needy and disadvantaged and made this demographic a priority. Kennedy’s commitment to education made him instrumental in the passing of the “No Child Left Behind” Act in 2001, which enacted standards-based education reform in public schools across all 50 states. With the execution of No Child Left Behind, data reflects that the overall national academic achievement of minority students increased. The role he played as the driving force in the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the Higher Education Act of 1968 made the achievement of higher education attainable for many who would have never had an opportunity.

Senator Kennedy chaired the Labor and Human Resources Committee and the Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee twice during a distinguished 47 -year Senate career! During these periods he played key roles with regard to Higher Education Act legislation benefiting the Nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including:    

•    Helping secure enactment of legislation to create Title IIIB, sponsored by the late Senator Paul Simon, which has provided more than $3 billion since FY 1986 for the HBCUs, has been the major funding stream for the HBCUs from the Federal Government;
•    Since the departure of the late Senator Claiborne Pell from the Senate, Senator Kennedy has been the chief advocate for the Federal Pell Grant Program in the Senate and has shepherded two major bills through the Senate that have resulted in two major increases in the Pell Grant maximum award level – in the past five years - that have been of immense benefit to minority. Low-income and “first-generation” students seeking access to college, in particular the HBCUs; and
•    Senator Kennedy has also been a real champion for funding for the Federal TRIO Programs – Educational Talent Search, Upward Bound, Math-Science Upward Bound, Ronald McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program, and the Student Support Services (SSS) Program, which is of particular importance since the public HBCUs all have some type of Federal TRIO Program, especially the Student Support Services Program.
“Senator Kennedy was a highly respected and influential public servant whose career spanned four decades with a focus on equality in education, health-care, voting rights and immigration, he has opened doors for many,” said Dwayne Ashley, President & CEO, Thurgood Marshall College Fund. “The nation has been affected positively by the good deeds that he did and we will continue to prosper for years to come through the initiatives he championed.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Victoria, his sister Jean Kennedy Smith and his three children, and the entire family during this time of bereavement. His legacy will live on through his countless efforts for fair practice.


About Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Inc.
The Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Inc., named for the late U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice, was established in 1987 and represents 47 public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and 6 law schools located in 22 states and the US Virgin Islands with a population of over 235,000 students. Over the last 21 years, TMCF has awarded more than $100 million in leadership development, programmatic and capacity support, and scholarships enabling more than 12,000 students to attend public HBCUs. It is the only national organization of its type that provides merit-based scholarships and programmatic support to students attending the nation’s public HBCUs. TMCF also provides internship programs and joins corporate and foundation partners in providing leadership training and support to students preparing for undergraduate and professional schools. TMCF is a 501(c) (3), tax-exempt organization.