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De Blasio Administration and Partners Kick Off Financial Security Campaign

June 27, 2017

NEW YORK –On Tuesday, the de Blasio administration launched a “Start by Asking” faith leader outreach initiative with the Robin Hood Foundation, Catholic Charities, UJA-Federation and Federation Protestant Welfare Agencies at the Benefits Access Breakfast to engage faith leaders and help them inform and train New Yorkers about claiming benefits for which they are eligible. These benefits include important nutritional and income supports such as SNAP, WIC, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Faith and community leaders will learn about the new tools their eligible constituents can use to easily access available benefits. The initiative will train 50 houses of worship and community organizations on benefits access screening and enrollment. In October, these organizations participate in a “Weekend of Enrollment”, where they will screen and enroll New Yorkers for benefits and services throughout the 5 boroughs. More information is available at

The “Start by Asking” campaign will connect New Yorkers with a range of existing programs that can improve their financial security. Benefits and services produce a range of associated positive life outcomes (e.g., health, education, etc. of claimants and their children) and local economic stimulus. For example, SNAP is a federal program administered locally that provides funding for eligible families to buy healthy food. SNAP receipt has a positive impact on children’s birthweight, obesity, health, academic performance and school discipline. 

Annually, SNAP recipients purchase about $2 billion in food, generating about $5.4 billion of economic activity in NYC, largely within small business. Partnering City agencies include the Human Resources Administration , the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships, Department of Consumer Affairs, Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, Mayor’s Office of Operations and Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit.

“We are proud to work closely with the Robin Hood Foundation and our partners in the City’s diverse faith community to get assistance to New Yorkers who need it,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks.  “Fighting poverty isn’t something anyone can do alone, it takes a government that works and a community that cares.”

"Our community and faith partners consistently reach out to New Yorkers and address their most pressing needs. We believe that our commitment to sustained engagement with our partners will ensure that more New Yorkers will have access to benefits, and this benefits our City as a whole," said Commissioner Marco Carrión, Mayor's Community Affairs Unit.

"Many New Yorkers are not connecting to key benefits that address financial insecurity. Faith and community leaders are taking action by organizing 'Weekends of Enrollment' throughout our City, and we are eager to partner and improve the financial security of all New Yorkers, together," said Jonathan Soto, Executive Director at the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships.

"Our churches, synagogues, mosques and other faith centers serve a critically important role in strengthening our most vulnerable communities. I've lived this important truth, growing up with my grandfather, who spent over 30 years as a minister in the Bronx. As the new CEO at Robin Hood, I'm humbled to break bread with this great group of faith leaders, and engage them on how we can come together in our shared mission helping New Yorkers living in poverty," said Wes Moore, CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation.

"Religious institutions are pillars in our communities and often are the first line of defense in combating poverty and supporting families in need," said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director at FPWA. "By partnering with the faith and nonprofit communities, the City and Robin Hood Foundation are helping to ensure that more New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet access and utilize critical supports, as we continue to strive towards equity for all."

“As Catholic Charities celebrates is 100-year legacy and launches our next century of helping New Yorkers, we are strengthening our partnerships on behalf of our neighbors in need," said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director at Catholic Charities of New York. "We are proud to be part of this great  metropolis that does so much to help our neighbors through a variety of programs and services. We also recognize that accessing these services can at times be daunting, and many fail to do so. Catholic Charities  enthusiastically join this initiative to ensure improved financial security for New Yorkers in need by increasing  access to available benefits.“ 

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