UPKNYC: More Than a Dozen Nonprofit, Advocacy and Labor Organizations Join UPKNYC

Fourteen local and national nonprofit, advocacy and labor groups have joined UPKNYC, the growing campaign to pass New York City’s tax plan to fund universal pre-k and expanded after-school programs. Support from these groups comes days after a dozen prominent business and civic leaders joined the campaign, boosting the call on Albany to pass New York City’s plan.

The organizations joining the campaign include: The New York Civil Liberties UnionThe Hispanic FederationDemocracy for New YorkDemocracy for AmericaLa FuenteThe Alliance for A Greater New York (ALIGN)the Coney Island ProjectGreater New York City for Changethe High Bridge Community Life CenterFair Access; the Retail Action Project (RAP)the New York Immigration Coalitionthe Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802; and the Arab American Association of New York.

“Universal pre-k is a win-win. It will help level the educational playing field for our most vulnerable children and help their parents – especially the moms, who typically shoulder the lion’s share of responsibility for childcare – to hold the jobs they need to provide for their families,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union.

“Hispanic Federation supports the city’s plan to ask high-income earners to pay a modest tax surcharge to fund high-quality, full-day pre-k and after-school programs,” said José Calderón, President of the Hispanic Federation. “For our Latino and English language learner (ELL) youth, these resources can and must ensure the creation of top bilingual programs that will guarantee Latino student success and build a well-educated, globally-competitive workforce.”

“High quality education is critical to ensuring economic opportunity and prosperity for all Americans. We applaud New York City’s efforts to make such a vital program available to the residents of New York and fighting for a critical, progressive policy solution that will take the growing crisis of income inequality head on,” said Jim Dean, Chair, Democracy for America.

“It makes so much sense to ensure the sustainability of quality pre-k and after-school programs,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “And it’s an especially critical move for immigrant families. Pre-K, when designed appropriately, can help our kids develop both their native and English language skills, engage immigrant families right from the start, and support working immigrant parents. With state test scores for young English language learners in the single digits and ELL graduation rates falling, we can’t afford not to do this.”

“We know that early childhood education programs are critical to building a sustainable New York abundant with good jobs and prosperous communities, and we applaud New York City’s plan to extend high-quality pre-k to all of New York,” said Matt Ryan, Executive Director of The Alliance for A Greater New York (ALIGN).

“Research has proven that early childhood education yields significant long-term benefits” said La Fuente Executive Director Lucia Gomez. “In communities, where children face countless obstacles, our goal as a city should be to give children every advantage possible to succeed. Universal Pre-Kindergarten is a step in the right direction that everyone should embrace.”

“I am honored to endorse the UPKNYC campaign as a non-profit leader representing the Arab American community and a parent whose two younger daughters were unable to attend pre-K due to waiting lists. I have witnessed firsthand the difference pre-K can make in a child’s academic performance and believe it provides the necessary first steps for our children to succeed and our communities to excel,” said Linda Sarsour, Executive Director, Arab American Association of New York.

“Investment in childhood education is essential to supporting and empowering communities across New York. We believe New York City’s plan will produce positive social change and we proudly extend our support to this plan,” said Brett Saffer, Education Coordinator at Greater New York City for Change.

“On behalf of nearly 10,000 working union musicians in the New York City metropolitan area, I could not be more pleased to announce that Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802, has unanimously endorsed New York City’s pre-k and after-school plan. We view this vote as a mandate from working families in the arts and cultural community, knowing that a push for comprehensive universal pre-kindergarten will strengthen the fabric of our society by introducing education policy that has been proven to increase graduation rates, decrease incarceration rates, and close the income equality gap,” said Local 802 President, Tino Gagliardi.

“We are impressed with the de Blasio administration’s approach to Pre-K. This isn’t just glorified babysitting on the taxpayer’s dime. The plan emphasizes quality, focusing on recruitment of great teachers and learning from what has worked around the country. We are proud to put our grassroots energy behind UPKNYC,” saidTracey Keij-Denton, President of Democracy for New York City.

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