Press Releases

Broadbased Coalition Launches “UPKNYC: The Campaign for Universal Pre-K and After-School” in Support of Mayor-Elect De Blasio’s Tax Plan for Universal Pre-K and After-School

Released December 19, 2013



New York, NY – Today a broad coalition of prominent New Yorkers and business, civic, non‐profit, clergy, and academic leaders launched UPKNYC: The Campaign for Universal Pre-­K and After-School, to pass Mayor‐Elect de Blasio’s plan to raise the income tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers to fund high-­quality pre-­kindergarten for all four-­year-­olds and after-­school programs for all middle school students in New York City who need them. The coalition was joined by the Mayor-­Elect, Chirlane McCray, and parents from across the city in need of pre-­k and after-­school for their children, and is comprised of more than thirty five organizations from the advocacy, academic, and business communities and prominent New Yorkers who have
pledged to spearhead a vigorous public education and advocacy campaign to pass the plan in Albany.

The campaign launched in conjunction with a website,, and accompanying video narrated by Chirlane McCray, sent today to tens of thousands of New Yorkers. Building on the grassroots energy of de Blasio’s campaign, the coalition pledged to work over the coming weeks to educate New Yorkers in every community and every sector about the plan, and engage them in supporting it with their policymakers in Albany.

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; and musician John Legend.

The campaign committee also includes the leaders of a growing list of 25 advocacy and non-­‐profit 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; and the Urban Youth Collaborative.

“As a single mother of four children, I know how hard it is to raise kids and provide for them at the same time. Right now, I depend on friends and family to take care of my four-­‐year-­‐old, and my older children often stay home unsupervised in the afternoons,” said Rocio Espada of Bushwick, Brooklyn, a member of Make the Road NY. “If I had access to pre‐k and after-­‐school programs, my children would do better in school, and it would really help my family be able to work. I believe this investment in our children, for our children, will make them better ready for school, for life, and will help them ultimately get better jobs. We need to all stand together to make this a reality for the millions of families in my position.”

“In recent decades, the growing divide between rich and poor has also meant a growing burden on the City’s poor children, who often face insurmountable obstacles to breaking free of poverty. Fortunately, we live at a time of unprecedented wealth and financial capacity in the City. With its world leadership in finance, the media, and commerce, New York City is ideally positioned to support all of its children. All segments of the NYC community, including its business leaders, political leaders, and philanthropists, should support the Mayor-­Elect’s call for a small tax increase on incomes above $500,000 per year to fund the expanded pre-­K and after‐school programs,” said Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-­General.

“Mayor-­Elect de Blasio’s plan to raise a small tax for the most wealthiest New
Yorkers is a way to guarantee a real commitment to expanding early childhood education and after-­‐school programs for all of New York City’s kids. I proudly stand behind the Mayor-­Elect to pass this plan and invest in all our city’s children,”
said Harvey Weinstein, Co‐chairman of The Weinstein Company.

“Mayor-­elect de Blasio’s plan to fund an expansion of early childhood education and after-­school programs with increased taxes on those New Yorkers who can most afford it presents a sound investment in our children and in the future of this city,” said Roger Altman, Executive Chairman of Evercore and Former Deputy Treasury Secretary.

“As a proud New Yorker, I want to see my city succeed – and I know Mayor-­Elect de Blasio’s plan to raise a small tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers to fund an expansion of pre­‐k and after-­school programs for children is a sound investment that will set us on the path to long-­term success,” said Steve Witkoff, founder of the Witkoff Group.

“We know, without a doubt, that investments in high-­quality early education and after-­‐school pay off in the short and long term, reducing high school drop-­‐out rates, the need for special education, incarceration, teen pregnancy, and low earnings later in life. A small tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers is a fair way to pay for such an important investment. New York must pass Mayor-­Elect de Blasio’s plan to expand universal pre‐kindergarten and after-­‐school programs: it is the best way to reduce inequality in New York City,” said Reverend Al Sharpton.

“Investing in children is more than just a moral imperative: it is the best economic return for society. When children are helped to flourish through programs like universal pre-­kindergarten and high-­‐quality after-­‐school activities, they have the chance to reach their full potential and to develop the knowledge and skills they will need for economic success as adults. Mayor-­Elect de Blasio’s plan will promote the well-being of our children and the vibrancy of New York City’s economy in future years. These wise and innovative investments in NYC’s children will inspire similar programs throughout the nation and the world,” said Irwin Redlener, Co-­Founder and President of the Children’s Health Fund and Director of the Center for
Child Well-­Being and Resilience at Columbia University.

“Our children are our greatest resource, and how we invest in them speaks volumes about who we are as a city. Mayor-­Elect de Blasio’s plan ensures that all New York City’s children will have access to the pre-k and after-­‐school programs that will improve their chances of success in school and in life, and creates a dedicated funding stream to make good on this promise. I fully support this plan and look forward to helping it pass in Albany,” said Reverend Michael Walrond, Jr. of First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem.

“As a parent, I know there is no way to overstate the importance of early childhood education and also of after-­‐school programs. Quite simply, access to them can mean the difference between success and failure for our kids. Every child and every family in our city deserves the same chance to succeed – and with a small tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers, we can do just that, ensuring that all four year olds have access to full-­day pre‐k and all middle school students have after-­school programs. That’s why I’m proud to stand with Mayor-­Elect de Blasio and my fellow members of the campaign committee to launch a campaign that will pass this plan in Albany,” said Cynthia Nixon.

“In New York City, the need for high-­‐quality pre-­kindergarten and after‐school
programs greatly outstrips the supply. U.S. Census data shows that 28% of New York City’s four year olds are not enrolled in early education programs. These programs are the great equalizers in the life trajectory of children, and we owe every child in New York City the chance to succeed. We stand ready to work with the Mayor-­‐Elect to ensure that his plan is passed in Albany,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children.

“Access to high-­quality early childhood education and after-­‐school programs are truly game changers for children, leveling the playing field between low-­‐income students and their higher-­income peers. In New York City, where there are more children than in any other city in the country – and where more than 30% of those children live in poverty – we need the long­‐term investment in our children that Mayor-­Elect de Blasio’s plan makes possible, and we need it now. We stand behind the Mayor-­Elect’s plan to invest in all children,” said Melanie Hartzog, Executive Director of Children’s Defense Fund – NY.

“We fully support Mayor-­‐Elect de Blasio’s plan to raise taxes on New Yorkers earning over $500,000 to fund full-­day universal pre-­k for all four year olds and after-­school programs for all middle school students. We know that early childhood education and after‐school programs are crucial to the success of New York’s children and families, and ensuring access for all children will make great strides toward reducing inequality in our city. We look forward to joining the Mayor‐Elect’s campaign in Albany to ensure the plan is passed, and working to realize our vision that all New York City children will have access to safe, affordable, high-­quality early childhood education and after-­school programs,” said the Campaign for Children, a coalition of more than 150 advocacy and provider organizations.

A recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University found that a significant majority of New Yorkers support the Mayor-­Elect’s plan. 63% of New York State voters are in favor of raising the income tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers to fund early education for all children, including 68% of New York City voters, 55% of voters in the suburbs and 64% of those who live in upstate New York.


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