New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos



Caps Off Weeks of Action As Grassroots Campaign Heads To Albany For March 4th Lobby Day

Elected Officials, Parents, and Young People Participated In Dozens Of Community Meetings, Made Over 1,000 Calls, Sent 10,000 Letters and Collected Over 100,000 Petition Signatures Urging Albany To Pass New York City’s Plan for Universal Pre-K and After-School

New York, NY – Today, more than a dozen elected officials across the City took to the streets to collect petition signatures and build support for New York City’s plan for universal pre-K and expanded after-school programs. Elected officials, parents, young people, and community members joined community organizations who are part of UPKNYC, the campaign to pass New York City’s plan in Albany.

Today’s “Field Friday” capped off weeks of sustained action across the City. UPKNYC has hosted dozens of community meetings, made over a thousand calls, sent ten thousand letters and collected hundreds of thousands of petition signatures urging Albany to pass New York City’s plan that includes a dedicated revenue stream to fund universal pre-K and expanded after-school programs.

On Tuesday, UPKNYC supporters from across the state will convene in Albany to urge legislators to pass New York City’s plan.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said: "New York City is ready to make universal pre-K and after-school for middle school students a reality. New Yorkers are behind this plan, the New York City Council is behind this plan, and today we are out organizing across the city with a simple message: Albany, let us do it."

Councilmember Costa Constantinides said: “New Yorkers have made clear that we support the city’s plan to ask the wealthy to pay a little bit more in taxes so that we can finally have universal pre-K and after-school programs. Today we are out talking to thousands of New Yorkers because grassroots energy is what will make our plan a reality.”

Councilmember Danny Dromm said: "Multiple studies have shown that children who receive an early childhood education perform demonstrably better later in life than those who don't receive it. New York City is ready to make these critical investments, but it can’t happen without Albany – that is why we are out talking to hundreds of New Yorkers and urging them to contact their Legislators”

Councilmember Ben Kallos said: “Every child deserves a fair start. We know that to close the achievement gap and give our children the education they need and deserve, we must make universal pre-K and after-school programs a reality. New York City has a plan to allow single parents like my own to go back to work and improve the lives of New York City's children, but we need Albany's approval to make it happen.”

"We know universal pre-K and expanded after-school programs increase cognition, boost scores and build fundamental skills that set children on the right path for the rest of their education. We can’t let a lack of funding compromise the future of our city. That’s why so many of us are not only supporting the campaign, but we are taking action to make UPK and expanded after-school a reality,” said UPKNYC field director Stephanie Yazgi.

Under New York City’s plan, all four-year olds would have access to truly universal pre-K for the first time in New York City’s history. This would close a gap of 53,767 children who currently receive inadequate part-time pre-K, or no pre-K at all and serve more than 73,000 4-year olds at full implementation. These high-quality programs are proven to increase cognition, boost scores and build fundamental skills that put children on an upward educational path.

New York City’s plan would also aggressively expand after-school learning opportunities for nearly 120,000 middle school students, adding new programs between 3pm and 6pm in academics, culture and athletics. Middle school is a critical period when parents’ involvement in education declines and kids need to be kept off the streets and out of harm’s way.

The City of New York is calling for a five-year increase in the NYC income tax on earners over $500,000 from 3.876% to 4.41%, which would yield approximately $530 million in new revenue each year. The past three New York City mayors have won approval from Albany to raise local taxes for priority issues – this tax increase would be even smaller.

Albany has promised universal pre-K since 1997, but funding commitments haven’t materialized and tens of thousands of New York City children are left behind. New York City should have home rule authority to raise its own taxes, to provide a dedicated funding source guarantees program stability.


Leaders from business, civil rights, academia, advocacy and the arts have formed UPKNYC’s growing campaign committee, including: Roger Altman, Founder and Executive Chairman of Evercore Partners, former Deputy Treasury Secretary, Chairman of New Visions for Public Schools; Cynthia Nixon, actor, Ambassador for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, longtime advocate for increased financing to NYC public schools; Jeffrey Sachs, preeminent economist leading Columbia University’s Earth Institute; Harvey Weinstein, Co-chairman of The Weinstein Company; Al Sharpton, one of the nation’s most renowned civil rights leaders, founder and president of the National Action Network; Rev. Michael A. Walrond, Jr., Senior Pastor of the historic First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem; Steve Witkoff, founder and CEO of the Witkoff Group; actress Olivia Wilde; Dr. Irwin Redlener of the Children’s Health Fund; musician John Legend; Leonard Litwin; Don Peebles, CEO of The Peebles Corporation; Orin Kramer, Managing Partner, Boston Provident, L.P.; Robert Dinerstein, Chairman of Veracity Worldwide; Marc Lasry, Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of the global investment firm Avenue Capital Group; Paul Metselaar, Founder and CEO of Ovation Travel and Lawyers Travel; Alan Patricof, Founder and Managing Director of Greycroft LLC, and Susan Patricof, chair of the Northside Center for Child Development; Jay Eisenhofer, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Grant & Eisenhofer P.A.; Nanette Lepore, fashion designer; Hal Fetner, President and CEO of Durst Fetner Residential; Lee Wasserman, Director of the Rockefeller Family Fund; Lorna Brett Howard; David Kramer; principal of the Hudson Companies; Jed Walentas, principal of Two Trees Management; James Walden, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher; Mitch Draizin, Longview Capital Advisers; Gina Argento, CEO of Broadway Stages; Charlene Gayle, Macon Realty; Professor Matthew Daus, CUNY; Elizabeth Sackler, philanthropist; Harendra Singh, owner of the Singh Group; Gina Argento, President of the Broadway Stage; Reverend A.R. Bernard of the Christian Cultural Center; Agnes Gund, Leo Hindery, Michael and Ann Loeb, Craig Kaplan and Anne Hess, Dal LaMagna, Elspeth Gilmore, Patricia Simpson, Darius Ross, Jessica Brackman, David A. and Ruth Levine, Karen Pittelman, Merry Tucker, Oliver Cannell, William Samuels, Steven and Mary Goldring, Mark Reed and Daria Ilunga, and Rosemary Faulkner.

Members of Congress supporting New York City’s plan include Reps. Yvette Clarke, Joe Crowley, Eliot Engel, Carolyn Maloney, Grace Meng, Jerrold Nadler, Charlie Rangel, Jose Serrano, & Nydia Velazquez.

The campaign committee also includes the leaders of a growing list of advocacy, non-profit, and labor organizations with deep roots across the five boroughs, including: Citizens’ Committee for Children, The Children’s Aid Society; The Center for Children’s Initiatives; Children’s Defense Fund New York; United Neighborhood Houses New York; Hudson Guild; University Settlement; Harlem RBI; Committee for Hispanic Children and Families; the Campaign for Children (a coalition of more than 150 early childhood education and after-school advocacy and provider organizations); Good Shepherd Services; Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies; Day Care Council; SCO Family Services; Coalition for Asian American Children and Families; Neighborhood Family Services Coalition; Advocates for Children; Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University; New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness; Alliance for Quality Education; United NY; Make the Road NY; Strong Economy for All; NYC Coalition for Educational Justice; New York Communities for Change; the Urban Youth Collaborative; the New York City Central Labor Council; the Working Families Party; the United Federation of Teachers; 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East; 32BJ SEIU; the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council; the Building and Construction Trades Council of New York City; the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union; the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Joint Council 16; AFSCME District Councils 37 and 1707; Transport Workers Union Local 100; the Communications Workers of America District 1; The New York Civil Liberties Union; The Hispanic Federation; Democracy for New York; Democracy for America; La Fuente; The Alliance for A Greater New York (ALIGN); the Coney Island Project; Greater New York City for Change; the High Bridge Community Life Center; Fair Access; the Retail Action Project (RAP); the New York Immigration Coalition; the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802; and the Arab American Association of New York.


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