East Harlem college prep program loses federal grant

- The feds have cut funding to a program in Harlem that helps high school students prepare for college. And people who run the program say the reason just doesn't make any sense.

Harlem Center for Education Executive Director Paula Martin says East Harlem high school students are going to suffer. The center helps poor students go to college. It provides them services, free of charge, such as SAT prep classes, financial aid counseling, access to computers, tutoring and visits to college campuses.

Now, after 40 years of funding the center, the U.S. Department of Education has pulled the plug. It will no longer provide nearly $500,000 a year to the center because more students are doing well academically at school and are not considered to be "in need."

The $500,000 grant was nearly half of the Harlem center's funding. Seven staff members have been let go. Martin's salary was cut to $28,000 a year and she says more than a thousand students in East Harlem will not receive free educational services to help them get to college.

Fox 5 contacted the U.S. Department of Education but we have not heard back.

The center contacted Rep. Charles Rangel and Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the hopes of getting help. Rangel contacted the U.S. Department of Education but no word, yet, on if the department will reconsider its decision.

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