February 17, 2021

Cortez Masto Hosts Town Hall With Nevada’s First-Generation Assistance Program Students, Mentors, and Directors

Las Vegas, Nev. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today hosted a virtual town hall with first-generation students participating in college access programs around Nevada. The conversation focused on how Congress can best support these students and what we can do to increase equity in opportunities for future generations.

“First generation students are often from communities of color, which have been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. From coping with issues related to housing, employment and food security, to taking on teacher roles for siblings while their parents are at work, these students are dealing with heavy burdens. On top of working incredibly hard to support their families, they are struggling to keep up with their academics, and they need our backing more than ever. As an alumna of the University of Nevada, Reno and as part of the first generation in my family to graduate from college, I know how important assistance programs are. I will continue to do everything in my power to support hardworking students who are dedicated to building a better life for themselves and their families with the help of a post-secondary degree.”


Senator Cortez Masto works tirelessly to provide resources for students across Nevada. Yesterday, she re-introduced her WORKER Act to help strengthen connections between registered apprenticeship programs and educational institutions. In 2019, she introduced the Reaching English Learners Act to create a grant program for colleges and universities to support training programs for teachers of English language learners. Senator Cortez Masto has also supported legislation to ease student debt burdens and help more students have access to financial aid to attend college. In addition, she strongly supported funding for the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program as well as TRiO Programs. 

In addition, Senator Cortez Masto published a College Resource Guide in English and Spanish to help students pursuing higher education.

First-generation programs provide assistance to students post-secondary education, whether at a traditional four-year institution, community college, or a trade program. Assistance programs that were discussed during the town hall include the following:

  • Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federally-funded grant designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. It currently supports 5,500 students across the state.
  • TRiO Scholars program is a federally funded program that provides undergraduates—including first generation, low-income and disabled students—with academic assistance and support to complete their bachelor’s degrees.
  • UNR Dean’s Future Scholars aims to identify students in sixth grade from selected Title 1 schools throughout the Washoe County School District to match them with mentors. The program provides guidance and support throughout middle, high school and college.
  • McNair Scholars is a federal TRiO program that prepares undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other activities.
  • TMCC Men of Color Mentorship Program aims to guide and motivate underrepresented, first-generation and low-income men in high school to continue to higher education. Students are mentored beginning during their sophomore or junior year in high school and extending through college.
  • Community of Bilingual English-Spanish Speakers is a program that assists bilingual high school students looking to pursue STEM-healthcare fields. Most of their students are first-generation or low-income students.
  • The Nepantla Program is a competitive, four-year commitment dedicated to empowering NSC first-generation college students through mentorship, access to resources, community building and professional success through self-discovery.
  • First Gen is a program dedicated to supporting UNLV first-generation, transfer or non-traditional students.
  • The Undocumented Student Program (USP) provides services, resources and support to undocumented students and mixed-status families.