Matilda Cuomo Restored as Founder & Chair of State Mentoring Program

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Matilda Cuomo, the matriarch of the Cuomo clan, with some of the students she mentored. Photo from the NYS Mentoring Program website.

The matriarch of the Cuomo clan has been restored to her place of honor. 

Matilda Raffa Cuomo, 90, wife of former three-term Gov. Mario Cuomo, and mother of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and recently fired CNN newscaster Chris Cuomo, has had her name restored with full honors on the New York State Mentoring Program website.

This includes her being credited with founding the program, being restored as the honorary chairperson of the program and there is also a link to her bio with photos on the website. 

The restoration follows a New York Post Story Feb. 6, in which a source close to the Cuomo family alleged that politics was the reason Matilda Cuomo’s name was wiped clean from the state program she founded in 1984 while her husband was governor. 

The cancellation comes as Gov. Kathy Hochul continues to clean the executive branch house and distance herself from Andrew Cuomo who resigned amid sexual harassment allegations on Aug. 23 of last year. Hochul previously ran with and served with Cuomo as Lt. Governor, and faces a primary against New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Long Island/Queens).

Jeannine Smith, a spokesperson for the Office of Children and Family Services, which oversees the program, said the omission of Matilda was an oversight and not intended.

“We greatly appreciate Mrs. Cuomo’s contributions to this program, and we are investing in updating and expanding the program to reach its full potential, including adding a new Latina Mentoring Initiative to help address pay equity and barriers to success. The website omission has been corrected,” said Smith in an email.

Matilda, a former teacher, besides founding the program, which provides one-on-one mentoring to at-risk students, also personally mentored students herself.

When the program was initially discontinued after Mario Cuomo lost his bid for a fourth term, Matilda continued it privately under the name Mentoring USA. After Andrew became governor, he revived the program in 2015 and named his mother as its honorary chairperson.

The NYS Mentoring Program was included in the FY2016 State Budget and began to grow each year until the impact of COVID-19 on schools which resulted in the number of programs being reduced by 50 percent. The programs that continued adapted to virtual applications for implementation. 

In fall 2021, Hochul announced a new Latina Mentoring Program Cohort to be launched in early 2022 in regions throughout the state. 

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