Share your story with the WRI Oral HIstory Project

If you were a current or former member of a WRI cohort or staff member, and are interested in sharing your story with the WRI Oral History Project, please contact Cynthia Tobar at Cynthia.Tobar [at] to schedule an interview.

Volunteer/Internships Available

If you would like to help volunteer or intern to assist in ongoing interviews, please contact Cynthia Tobar at Cynthia.Tobar [at] Internships for academic credit can be arranged.

Help with your contribution towards documenting WRI's history and giving a voice to the struggle for equal access to higher education!

Get Involved with WRI

Welfare Rights Initiative (WRI) is a student activist and leadership training organization that mobilizes and supports economically disadvantaged college students to assert a collective voice in the policy decision-making that determines their life chances.  WRI was developed in 1995 to specifically address three problematic aspects of the welfare reform debates:  the absent voice of welfare claimants; the negative stereotypes that dominate decision-making, and the need for reforms that are realistic and socially constructive. For the past fifteen years, WRI has provided students with the opportunity to participate in organizing and leadership development activities; collaborate with community advocates, activists, service providers, scholars and policy makers to help secure real access to education.

WRI is staffed and driven almost entirely by women and men with firsthand experience of public assistance who pursue college as a route to adequate income. In 1995, there were 28,000 students throughout the City University of New York (CUNY) receiving public assistance.  Approximately 22,000 of those hard working students were forced to abandon their education because of the punitive rules of welfare reform.  This is a shocking fact given that, with a bachelor’s degree, 88% of women receiving welfare move permanently out of poverty. Today, 6,000 hard working students remain at CUNY.

To learn more about how to get involved with WRI, visit their website.

Donate to WRI

The Welfare Rights Initiative is always looking for fundraising and sponsorship opportunities in the form of donated goods or services, gift certificates, tickets to events, mentoring opportunities, etc.  Every donation is meaningful, and fully tax-deductible.

Your gift will help WRI continue its work of securing access to education for all and making sure students are not forced out of school.

The staff at WRI is grateful for all gifts.  They are able to pick up the items for donation or have it sent to their mailing address:

Welfare Rights Initiative
Hunter College
695 Park Ave
Hunter East, Room 1222
New York, NY 10065

If you have any questions please contact WRI Co-Executive Director Dillonna C. Lewis at 212-650-3569 or dillonna [at]