December 11, 2020
Dear Parents,

This week is Computer Science Education Week, and we have been celebrating on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) by sharing ways that schools, students, and families can get involved and learn more about computer science. In addition, as I mentioned in my last letter, students have the opportunity to discover the meaningful work of computer science and compete for millions of dollars in college scholarships through the National Cyber Scholarship program. Every high school student in America can register for free access to CyberStart America. The 2021 Competition will take place fully online April 5-6, 2021. To learn more and register, visit the CyberStart America website.

I would also like to make you aware of our New York State My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) newsletter, Changing the Narrative. In each issue, we share news related to MBK and provide information about new grant opportunities, including $6 million in grants for the My Brother’s Keeper Family and Community Engagement Program (FCEP) announced just this week. The FCEP grants aim to increase the academic achievement and college and career readiness of boys and young men of color while fostering the development of effective relationships with families to promote the success of all students.

It is my belief and the resolve of the New York State Education Department (NYSED) that all children, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, should feel empowered to succeed in life and not be limited by the circumstances they were born into. It is crucial that families and communities be engaged for students to be successful. The MBK Changing the Narrative newsletter highlights successful programs like FCEP that have come about as a result of the funding from New York State's MBK initiative.

In addition, our latest edition of Changing the Narrative provided resources for families and communities across New York State to help them better navigate the educative process during COVID-19, including an interview with Dr. Lynne M. Holden, the first video in our “Ask a Doctor” series. Subscribe to the MBK newsletter today!

While your children are on winter break later this month, I encourage you to follow NYSED on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) to get ideas for fun and educational family activities. In addition to providing daily ideas during winter break, we share tips, resources, activities, and events throughout the year highlighting daily themes like “Math Monday,” “Trivia Tuesday,” and “Wellness Wednesday.” If you don’t already, be sure to follow us for these tips and ideas and for our latest news.

I also wanted to remind you that if you have a college-bound student, winter break is a great time to submit your child’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you’re a New York State resident and have completed the FAFSA, you should also complete the online New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) application. If you have other questions about financial aid, the SUNY Smart Track financial literacy website has a lot of great resources that can help you plan for the costs of college.

I hope you encourage other parents to sign up for our parent email list to receive updates. I appreciate your continued support, and I wish you the best for a safe and healthy holiday season. Please stay well.


Betty A. Rosa
Interim Commissioner