The 18th annual Gridiron Gala at the Waldorf-Astoria presented by United Way of New York City along with the New York Jets and New York Giants on Tuesday night brought in $2.015 million to support United Way programs that help New York City at-risk youth.
More than 1,000 corporate and community leaders attended the high-spirited event, now a New York tradition. Also in attendance were current Jets players D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Dustin Keller, current Giants players Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe, Giants seventh-round draft pick Da'Rel Scott, and former NFL players Ted Banker, Erich Barnes, Emerson Boozer, Greg Buttle, Harry Carson, Chad Cascadden, Rich Caster, Frank Gifford, Bruce Harper, Dave Herman, Bobby Jackson, Sean Landeta, Skip Lane, Ray Lucas, Curtis McGriff, Greg Murphy, Karl Nelson, Joe Namath, John Nitti, Amani Toomer, Bob Tucker, Wesley Walker and Charles Way.
All funds raised at the Gridiron Gala will support United Way-led initiatives that improve the lives of the city's most vulnerable children by: \
■ Combating childhood obesity by engaging young children, families and staff at Head Start Centers in learning about the importance of healthy eating and exercise.
■ Promoting early-grade literacy – a key foundation for success in middle school and beyond.
■ Helping at-risk youth make a smooth transition into high school and stay on track to on-time graduation.
"United Way of NYC is dedicated to ensuring quality education for every child in New York City," said Gordon Campbell, CEO of United Way of NYC. "The event's proceeds will fund outcome-driven United Way programs that will transform lives and foster long-term, sustainable change. We are grateful for all the support from the NFL as well as the corporate and community leaders who joined together tonight to support this cause."
Every year the Gridiron Gala honors leaders who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to giving back to the community. The 2011 honorees were two Hometown Heroes — Jets fullback Tony Richardson and Giants defensive lineman Chris Canty — and two Community Quarterbacks — Barry Salzberg, CEO, Deloitte LLP, and Blackstone, represented by Laurence Tosi, senior managing director and CFO.
"I am humbled and honored that I was chosen as one of the 2011 Hometown Heroes," said Richardson. "United Way has changed the lives of so many young people and I am blessed to be able to do my part to help that effort."
The United Way and the NFL have been partners for more than three decades. In 1973 the two organizations developed the idea of using the NFL's network contract airtime to promote United Way during telecasts. Since then, this partnership has helped to raise awareness of the value of giving back to the community as well as the good work of both United Way and the league and its players in the community.
But the NFL's support of United Way extends well beyond the commercials seen during game broadcasts. There is a shared goal to make an impact in communities served by both institutions, with a current focus on encouraging youth to develop healthy eating and exercise habits.
United Way of New York City relies on active corporate partners. This year it is recognizing the outstanding commitment by Deloitte and Blackstone.
Blackstone ranks among United Way of New York City's top 25 corporate partners. Blackstone, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and the firm's employees contribute extensive resources to support United Way's programs each year -- giving more than $1 million in 2010.
"Blackstone has been a long-time supporter of the important work of the United Way and we were pleased to achieve 100 percent participation from our senior partners and 90 percent participation from all employees this year," said Tosi. "Blackstone has a strong culture of giving back to the community through volunteerism and service, which includes year-round involvement in the work of United Way of New York City."
A leader in corporate philanthropy, Deloitte has invested millions in the future of the nation's youth through its work with United Way. The organization has a longstanding commitment to education and is working to improve educational systems nationwide by supporting sustainable programs that create a strong foundation for learning, keep kids on track to graduation, and opening new doors to higher education. In the Greater New York City area alone, Deloitte employees contributed more than $3.8 million in charitable giving through United Way in 2010.
"Deloitte and the United Way have been working together for more than 25 years at the national level and I only expect this dynamic relationship to grow even more," said Salzberg. "With the United Way and other partners, Deloitte is committed to making the dream of college come true for more kids in our inner cities, all while strengthening the talent pipeline and U.S. competitiveness in the process."
About United Way of New York City
United Way of New York City (UWNYC) brings together people, resources and ideas to achieve lasting systemic changes that improve the education, income stability and health of New Yorkers and foster a more robust and effective nonprofit sector. We believe that everyone has a role in building a better future for all. We offer diverse opportunities for New Yorkers to give, advocate and volunteer to advance the common good. To learn more about our work and how to get involved, visit www.UnitedWayNYC.org.