Thousands walk the Brooklyn Bridge to raise awareness of disparities in education, income and health

Published

New York, NY – United Way of New York City's LIVE UNITED Bridge Walk drew thousands of New Yorkers, community leaders, and teams from the business, government and nonprofit sectors to help raise awareness of the need to "bridge" critical gaps in education, income stability and health that affect poor and low-income New Yorkers. More than 3,000 participants gathered in Foley Square and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to Cadman Plaza Park for a Volunteer Festival featuring live music, food, activities for children and youth, plus dozens of nonprofit organizations from all five boroughs offering volunteer opportunities for New Yorkers of all ages.

“The thousands of us who walked today including elected officials, community leaders and concerned New Yorkers recognize just how bad things have gotten and are committed to doing something about it,” said United Way of New York City President and CEO Gordon Campbell. “The latest data remind us that we must all do more to help low-income New Yorkers achieve greater economic stability, educational success and good health. Every one of us has a role to play in creating pathways out of poverty.”

“Providing a strong educational foundation for our citizens is essential to the economic future of our city and country,” said New York City Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “I’m grateful to United Way and our other partners for their efforts to increase public awareness around the importance of ensuring that every child has access to high-quality educational opportunities.”

“Skanska is proud to be the lead sponsor of United Way’s LIVE UNITED Bridge Walk for the second year in a row. This event is a perfect example of how New Yorkers from all walks of life can come together to make our city better. As a construction company, making cities better places to live, work and play is what we do every day, whether it’s building new bridges and parks, or constructing greener buildings and safer highway,” said Skanska USA Building President Bill Flemming. “Working with the United Way, we know we can help make a difference in the lives of the city’s most vulnerable residents.”

“Guardian is very proud to be a sponsor of the LIVE UNITED Bridge Walk," said Deanna M. Mulligan, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. "For more than 150 years, Guardian has been committed to helping New Yorkers and other Americans secure greater financial protection, and achieve better health and well being.  Guardian is both honored and pleased to join with United Way of New York City to shed light on the critical challenges facing so many New Yorkers, and to be a catalyst for change."

“National Grid is a proud sponsor of the LIVE UNITED Brooklyn Bridge Walk.  The event is a unique opportunity to celebrate teamwork at National Grid while supporting United Way programs,” said Rudy Wynter, National Grid Senior Vice President for Shared Services and United Way board member.  “National Grid has a long-standing partnership with United Way, helping to make a huge difference in the communities we both live in and serve.”

Today’s Bridge Walk and Volunteer Festival helped raise awareness about critical gaps in education, income and health in our city that have contributed to the fact that:

  • One in five New Yorkers live below the poverty line, which for a family of three means earning less than $18,000 a year.
  • 30% of New York City children under the age of 18 live in poverty.
  • 56% of New York City public school students in grades 3 through 8 read below grade level and 39% of New York City students who enter ninth grade fail to graduate with their peers four years later.
  • One in four New Yorkers lives in a household that can't afford enough food. Forty percent of New York City children in Head Start are obese or overweight.

Dollars raised will help fund United Way's outcome-driven programs that are working to ensure substantially higher graduate rates, improved income stability, and healthier lifestyles for vulnerable New Yorkers.

The Volunteer Festival featured live music by local bands Son de Brooklyn, Superhero, and Sesame Flyers; a family zone with stilt walkers, face painters, and arts and crafts; sports activities for youth and teens; interactive pavilions to learn about United Way’s work in education, income and health; and the chance to visit with dozens of local nonprofit groups seeking volunteer assistance throughout the year.

All walkers received complimentary health snacks and beverages courtesy of Driscoll Foods, Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group, Food Should Taste Good, and KIND Healthy Snacks. The festival featured 10 specialty food trucks including Organic Carts NYC, Rickshaw Dumpling Bar, Mexicue NY, Kimchi Taco Truck, Treats Truck and Van Leeuwen Ice Cream.

About United Way of New York City

United Way of New York City fights poverty across the five boroughs.  With a focus on education, income and health – the building blocks of a good life -- UWNYC designs and invests in evidence-based programs that ensure low-income New Yorkers have both a safety net and a springboard to a better life. UWNYC rigorously evaluates its work and uses lessons learned to advance citywide policies and practices that support New Yorkers in overcoming poverty by improving educational outcomes, strengthening financial stability, and promoting healthier lifestyles. The LIVE UNITED Bridge Walk and Festival brings attention to  critical needs and educates the public on ways they can help by volunteering in their own communities.

About Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction networks in the country serving a broad range of industries including healthcare, education, sports, data centers, government, aviation, transportation, and water/wastewater. Headquartered in New York with 35 offices across the country, Skanska USA employs approximately 7,000 employees committed to sustainable construction and an injury-free workplace. Skanska USA Building, which specializes in building construction, and Skanska USA Civil, which is focused on civil infrastructure, generated $4.8 billion in revenue in 2010, representing 31 percent of Skanska’s global construction revenues. Additional operations in the U.S. include Skanska USA Commercial Development, which pursues commercial development initiatives in select U.S. markets, and Skanska Infrastructure Development Americas, which develops public-private partnerships. Global revenue of parent company Skanska AB, headquartered in Stockholm and listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange, totaled $16.9 billion in 2010.