United Announces $8 Million to Boost Eight Hub Communities - United Hub
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United announces $8 million to boost eight hub communities

By The Hub team , May 30, 2018

On May 30, we announced a total of $8 million in grants to help address pressing issues identified by local leadership in each of our hub market communities – Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Newark/New York and Washington, D.C. The announcement represents our commitment to invest in and lift up the communities where many of our customers and employees live and work.

San Francisco, California

a $1 million grant to the San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network

On August 24, we announced a $1 million grant to the San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network (SFILEN) to increase its advocacy and community engagement endeavors in the immigrant community. The four-year grant will allow SFILEN's Rapid Response Network to add staff and to strengthen its legal and education services. This grant also will help SFILEN provide mental health evaluations and interpretation services.

"United cares deeply about investing in communities we serve," said Janet Lamkin, United's President of California. "We have been a part of the San Francisco community for 90 years, and we are proud to help SFILEN in its important work with the immigrant community."

Learn more about this grant to the San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network at United Newsroom.

New York & New Jersey

On July 18, we announced a $2 million grant to be split between the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Urban League of Essex County, and Year Up New York. These organizations were selected for their work within the local communities that surround Newark Liberty International Airport and their dedication to vital workforce development programs giving people opportunities for the future.

"We are thrilled to be able to provide support to multiple New York and New Jersey communities to help individuals build their professional and personal development job skills," said Jill Kaplan, president, New York/New Jersey for United Airlines. "The Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Urban League of Essex County, and Year Up New York align to our core values as a company and the grants will provide new opportunities for each organization to further promote their missions."

Learn more about this grant to the Community FoodBank, Urban League of Essex County and Year Up New York at United Newsroom.

Los Angeles, California

On July 13, we announced a $1 million grant to First Place for Youth, a Los Angeles nonprofit organization, in support of their My First Place program. The four-year investment will enable First Place to expand wraparound support services to 50 percent more foster youth in the region. First Place will strengthen career-focused programming and provide the tools to help secure meaningful employment and increase lifetime earning potential for Angeleno foster youth.

"Everyone deserves access to the opportunity to earn a paycheck and succeed, especially our most vulnerable young people," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "Through our HIRE LA's Youth program, partners like United Airlines and First Place For Youth are helping our young people find jobs, start careers, and realize their dreams."

Over the next four years, our investment in the My First Place program will help First Place for Youth provide Los Angeles' foster youth with safe, stable housing, individualized education and employment counseling and healthy living support services. We will work hand-in-hand with the local organization and engage with city and community leadership to create profound, sustainable advancements for the city's foster youth population.

Learn more about this grant to First Place for Youth at United Newsroom.

Denver, Colorado

Employees receiving the million dollar check for Warren Village in Denver

On June 29, we shared a $1 million grant to Warren Village, a Denver nonprofit organization that has been helping low-income, single-parent families make the journey from poverty to self-sufficiency using a two-generational model since 1974.

"Warren Village is a wonderful organization that is helping address Denver's homelessness through a comprehensive program designed to help single parents achieve sustainable stability for not only themselves, but their families, too," United's Vice President of Denver Operations Steve Jaquith said. "We're looking forward to partnering with Warren Village to help them in their mission to provide education, skills, hope and a bright future for those who need it most."

Our investment will provide both program and growth support for Warren Village, including improvements to the program and a focus on increasing participation. Additionally, we will be engaging our Denver employees in a variety of volunteer activities with Warren Village.

Learn more about this grant to Warren Village at United Newsroom.

Washington D.C.

United employees and members of Year Up accepting the grant

On Wednesday, June 27, at our Washington Dulles hub, we announced a $1 million grant to the Year Up National Capital Region to provide professional skills and transportation resources to the students in the program.

Specifically, we will work with this nonprofit organization to help close the "Opportunity Divide," specifically addressing the main barriers to the organization's program participants in the capital region: transportation and examination fees. By providing needed stipends and shuttle transportation from Year Up locations to internships and training opportunities in the region that would be difficult to reach without a personal vehicle, this grant will enable Year Up to provide motivated and talented young adults with technical and professional skills training to achieve upward economic mobility and access to meaningful careers within one year.

"More than 40 percent of our young adults face transportation challenges, and this grant will allow us to provide more transportation resources at all stages of the program, as well as deepen other student services support," said Guylaine Saint Juste, Executive Director of Year Up National Capital Region. "The generous grant from United Airlines will be able provide our students with more resources and remove barriers to their success."

Learn more about this grant to the Year Up National Capital Region at United Newsroom.

Houston, Texas

Volunteers at receiving United's grant at Houston Food Bank

On June 13, we shared a $1 million grant to the Houston Food Bank in support of their School Market program. The School Market program was specifically expanded to assist children attending Harvey-affected schools, which were among the hardest hit after Hurricane Harvey.

Our investment in the Food Bank's School Market program will provide nutritious food to students at 25 schools, each serving an average of 200 households a year. Among the 25 schools, 10 schools will receive new United-branded brick and mortar pantries onsite and 15 will receive mobile pantries. All pantries will be open this fall for the new school year and provide families the opportunity to shop for food throughout the academic year. By improving the quality of food and providing more access to fruits and vegetables, the Houston Food Bank expects to help increase students' fruit and vegetable intake, improve their academic performance and school attendance.

"United Airlines has a special connection to Houston and they continue to be a wonderful partner with the Houston Food Bank," says Brian Greene, president/CEO of the non-profit organization, the largest food bank in the nation. "Their latest grant will make it possible for us to provide food and nutrition educations to families, including many of whom were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. We thank United for making this important, substantial investment into one of its largest hub cities."

Learn more about this grant to Houston Food Bank at United Newsroom.

Chicago, Illinois

Oscar with employees and the Year Up check

In our inaugural announcement, we shared that we will work with the nonprofit Year Up to help close the "Opportunity Divide." in Chicago. This grant for $1 million to Year Up in Chicago will enable the organization to provide hundreds of additional motivated and talented young adults in Chicago with in-demand technical and professional skills training, hands-on corporate internship experience at top companies including United, college credits and support necessary to achieve upward economic mobility and access to meaningful careers in just one year.

Our investment in Year Up Chicago is expected to grow the program's reach by 25 percent while also contributing to launching a second campus in connection with Harold Washington College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago and the City of Chicago.

"Connecting our customers to the moments that matter most goes well beyond getting them from point A to point B," said Oscar Munoz, United's chief executive officer. "We have the opportunity to make lasting, measurable change. We are proud to do our part to help our home here in Chicago and are excited to share more with each of our hub communities over the coming weeks."

"Here in Cook County, more than 94,000 young adults are out of work and out of school, disconnected from the economic mainstream," said Jack Crowe, Year Up Chicago's executive director. "With United Airlines' help, Year Up Chicago will be able to accelerate its expansion, strengthening our communities and Chicago as a whole."

Learn more about this grant Year Up Chicago at United Newsroom

Today's announcement is the second in a series of community grant announcements United is making in all of its domestic hub markets over the coming weeks. In each community, we worked with city leadership to identify a unique area of critical needs in the city as part of our larger efforts to lift up communities in crisis.

Throughout these four-year grants, we will work hand-in-hand with local organizations and engage with city and community leadership to create profound, sustainable advancements.

7 family-friendly activities to celebrate fall

By Matt Chernov

Ask someone to name their favorite thing about fall and you'll likely get a different answer depending on where they live. For many people, the mosaic of vibrantly colored leaves and foliage is what defines the months of September through mid-December. Others find the scent of autumnal spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and turmeric is what makes the fall so special. And for some, it's the cooler temperatures that make being outside even more enjoyable. Plus, fall is full of fun activities no matter where you are — from pumpkin patches and apple picking to watching football and enjoying a bowl of chili. All of these things, and more, make the fall so magical. To help you celebrate the season, here are seven fall-themed activities to try this year.

Go apple picking

Apple Orchard

Apple picking combines outdoor fun with delicious and healthy snacks that can be used in a variety of ways, making it the perfect fall activity for adults and children of all ages. Though you'll find countless orchards around the country worth visiting this season, New England is widely considered a prime apple picking destination with over 120 varieties found in the region. It can be argued that the variety they are best known for is the McIntosh apple. This type of apple and many more can be found at Honey Pot Hill Orchards in the lovely town of Stow, Massachusetts, so be sure to stop in and take home a bushel that you pluck from the trees yourself. Picking times are from 9 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. daily, making it easy to schedule a trip.

Meanwhile in California, apple season runs until the end of November, giving you plenty of time to pick a few baskets of Red Delicious or Gala apples before winter. Riley's at Los Rios Rancho in the city of Yucaipa is one of the largest farms of its kind in Southern California and has been welcoming apple pickers to their 10,000-tree farm for more than 100 years.

Visit a pumpkin patch

A young girl runs through a pumpkin patch farm

If there was a fall mascot, it would be a pumpkin, so to celebrate the true essence of the season, it's hard to beat a trip to a colorful pumpkin patch. A pumpkin patch is more than just a place to find the perfect candidate for this year's prize-winning jack-o'-lantern, it's a wonderful way to create cherished new memories with your children or friends. The Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence, New York, is perfect for pumpkin picking, but also offers weekend activities throughout the fall, including scarecrow making lessons, cider brewing demonstrations, pumpkin pie eating contests, and live music and barbecues.

If you're traveling through the Midwest this season, hop aboard a vintage farm wagon at Polly's Pumpkin Patch in Chilton, Wisconsin, and make your way out into their scenic fields where you can pick as many pumpkins as you want. Other activities at Polly's include a livestock petting zoo, a 40-foot slide and a popular corn cannon that lets older kids launch corn cobs at targets for cash prizes.

Enjoy a harvest festival

Autumn Harvest Festival

An annual tradition in America that dates back to 1613, harvest festivals are outdoor celebrations that coincide with the growing and reaping seasons we all enjoy. Filled with food, fun, music and dance, you haven't truly experienced the wonder of the fall season until you've participated in a local harvest fest. The good news is that there are plenty to choose from around the country this year. Two of the most popular are the Autumn at the Arboretum festival in Dallas, Texas, which runs until October 31, and the incredible North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival in Whiteville, North Carolina, which ends on November 3. Both of these festivals have been drawing huge crowds for years.

For a harvest fest that's slightly spookier, head to Wisconsin where you'll find the classic Jack O' Lantern Days celebration in the cozy town of Fish Creek, and the Halloween-themed Zombie Days festival on the coast of Chequamegon Bay. Ghoulish activities include an undead musical show, a zombie pub crawl and a traditional harvest festival pumpkin parade. The scary fun lasts from October 26 through October 27.

Hit the trails

A path through autumn foliage forest in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Hiking is more than just great exercise; it's an excellent way to bring the whole family together during the fall. And since the leaves are changing colors, it's also a great way to snap some incredible nature photos. So lace up your hiking boots, grab your kids and your camera, and find a trail that's right for you. If you're looking for suggestions, Sterling Point Trail in Vermont and Rome Point Trail in Rhode Island are impossible to beat when it comes to picturesque fall hiking.

On the opposite side of the country, the trails at Dry Creek Falls in Portland, Oregon, were voted one of the most photogenic hiking spots on the west coast by BuzzFeed, and it's easy to see why once you've been there. Covering a distance of just over 4 miles, this beautiful trail is perfect for all skill levels, making it a solid choice for families with kids.

Roll in the hay

Corn Maze sign

Hayrides and corn mazes are traditional fall activities that have never gone out of style, and for very good reason. There's just something wonderfully nostalgic about introducing a new generation of children to the simple pleasures of wandering through an overgrown corn maze, and with so many participating farms scattered across the country, there's a plethora of options to choose from. The Johnny Appleseed corn maze at Shady Brook Farm in Yardley, Pennsylvania, and the popular horse-drawn hayride at Papa's Pumpkin Patch in Bismarck, North Dakota, are two of the best.

In honor of Halloween, the massive haunted hayride at Fear Farm in Phoenix, Arizona, brings an assortment of ghosts, goblins and ghouls to life from early October until the first week in November. Filled with sinister special effects, creepy costumes and macabre makeup, this Hollywood-worthy hayride is recommended for adults and children over the age of 12. With five terrifying corn mazes to choose from, Fear Farm certainly lives up to its name!

Up, up and away

Hot Air Balloon on a farm

Hot air ballooning during the fall is a dazzling way to experience the season in all its natural splendor. After all, how else can you get a spectacular birds-eye view of the colorful trees as their leaves change from green to golden orange? Balloons Over Letchworth, located near New York's Letchworth State Park, offers astonishing views of the surrounding area, including majestic waterfalls and stunning forests. Best of all, they offer a variety of family tour packages, so you'll find just what you're looking for, regardless of the size of your group.

If you're visiting Southern California's wine region this fall, reserve a balloon ride with the fine folks at California Dreamin'. Their friendly FAA commercial licensed pilots will take you and your family on an unforgettable balloon voyage high above the vineyards of Temecula wine country.

Pitch a tent

closeup of one tent in woods

Though typically associated with summer, in many ways the fall is truly the best time of year to go camping. Thanks to the cooler weather, there are few — if any — insects to bother you and your family. Plus, there are less people claiming all the best spots, so you should have no problem picking a prime location to pitch your tent. And when it comes to toasting marshmallow for s'mores over an open campfire, everyone agrees that they simply taste better when eaten on a brisk autumn night.

For the ultimate fall camping trip, book a spot at Earth First Farms in southwest Michigan and set up your tent in an actual organic apple orchard. The 49-acre farm provides campers with complimentary firewood and plenty of fresh produce to pick.

Getting there

Regardless of where you plan to celebrate the fall, book your flight at united.com or by using the convenient United app, and share your story on social media with the #MyUnitedJourney hashtag.

United's humanitarian relief flight to the Bahamas

By Marie Gray , September 19, 2019

As United's humanitarian Flight 2814 from IAH to the Bahamas departed for the islands on September 17, a little over two weeks after Hurricane Dorian struck the islands with the fury of a record-breaking Category 5 storm, the reality was stark. More than 1,300 people are still missing. Rebuilding in the Bahamas will take years. And the need for help remains urgent, with thousands of evacuees overflowing shelters and infrastructure on Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands largely destroyed.

United is doing its part. As of September 18, we have raised more than $560,000 together with our four relief partners – Americares, Airlink, Global Giving and the American Red Cross -- to support victims of the storm through a Crowdrise funding campaign and MileagePlus award miles for members who donate $50 or more. And the resounding theme among the nearly 100 aid workers on the flight, which United and its partner Airlink helped coordinate, is that we are all, customers and employees included, part of the same response team.

The flight's passengers came from four organizations: Team Rubicon (U.S.), Team Rubicon Canada, Waves for Water and Mercy Corps. They are moms, grandfathers, ex-soldiers, sailors and infantry, as well as amazing civilians each wanting to play a part in giving these victims hope and a shot at rebuilding their lives.

Nina Augustine, a former Air Force security forces specialist who spent two years in Uganda, is a member of Waves For Water's Veteran Division, The Clean Water Corps. "We deliver water filtration systems and training to people who need access to clean water. I think it's pretty awesome what United is doing. Disaster response is a team effort. Every individual and organization brings a unique skill and resource to help people who have lost everything. But, if we can't get there, none of those skills and resources matter. United taking a lead in supporting moving relief workers to the disaster area is a critical component."

South Florida retired Army veteran Jed Marceau who volunteers with Team Rubicon said, "If you go down and you clear 50 feet of road, you can say you've accomplished something. You do the best you can to help people who need it the most. It makes you feel like you've achieved something." Marceau is signed up for a two-week stint and planning to make it a double.

Jonathen Davis served in the U.S. Navy for seven years as an expeditionary combat cameraman and has been with Team Rubicon longer than that at this point. "The partnership between United, Airlink, and Team Rubicon allows these 80 volunteers to provide disaster relief to communities in the Bahamas that have experienced devastating loss," he said. "Other than veterans, we also bring in first responders and other amazing civilians. We all come together to serve survivors who are looking for help and bring them steps closer to full recovery.

Team Rubicon's core capabilities include mucking out homes, tree branch clearing, heavy equipment operation, movement of piles of debris, and even medical care provided by EMTs with special verification granted by the World Health Organization to care for those they meet along the way.

"It's great that United is providing seats to this group," Davis said. "United and Airlink are team members of Team Rubicon. Without you all, we'd have to find another way to get ourselves there."

Angela Owen, senior program officer at Mercy Corps, says that her organization, too, could not be more thankful for the generous support it's receiving from United and its customers. "This helps incredibly with the response. Deploying staff quickly and easily to the Bahamas has been instrumental in our ability to distribute essentials like clean water, food and solar lanterns. Right now we are focusing our relief efforts on Grand Bahama island, one of the two hardest-hit islands where a large number of people who need assistance are located."

Retired Alaska flight paramedic Teresa Gray discussed the storm on the return flight from Nassau on Tuesday after finishing up a 10-day stint that began just a few days after Dorian hit. Gray founded Mobile Medics International three years ago to bridge what she identified as a unique gap in humanitarian response. "Our mission is to fill the gap from zero medical care [after a natural disaster] to functioning medical service."

As team leader, Gray notifies her volunteer roster of 150 physicians, nurses, and EMTs with plans for an activation, and they let her know if they want to take part. "We specialize in small teams," she said. "When you get into big teams, you're not mobile anymore. The more people you need, the more resources you need. We're never more than eight or nine on a mission, max. We went to Mozambique after the Category 4-equivalent Typhoon Kenneth, and a team of six people saw about 250 people a day."

Dorian, she said, was mind boggling.

"I've never seen anything like it. So much destruction and devastation. Hundreds and hundreds were washed out to sea. Abaco housed 40,000 people before. Now there are 300 to 400. The Haitians went to the smaller islands and Bahamians went to Nassau. All the shelters are overflowing."

The partnerships, the collaborations, the teaming and the sharing are all central features of disaster response, Gray said. "Your $5 donation matters. I can buy 1,000 doses of amoxicillin for $32. We also get a bit of intel about what else they need." Gray then goes back to World Central Kitchen's local feeding operation and shares information with other relief groups about what's lacking, where they need food and water, and where they need tents.

"There are no secrets in humanitarian medicine," she said. "You share what you get."

By the numbers so far:

  • $560,000+ raised through Crowdrise
  • 200,000 meals on Flight 2814 provided by Rise Against Hunger (RAH), including meals packed by United employees
  • 4,460 hygiene kits and sanitation supplies delivered for Heart to Heart International
  • Team Rubicon's 2 pallets on board of day packs, water, tents, filtration systems
  • 197 relief volunteers transported (93 on the charter, 104 provided by United through Airlink)
  • One humanitarian charter (Boeing 777-200)
  • 30,000 lbs. of relief supplies transported

Want to help? You can join us in our disaster relief efforts by donating to our Crowdrise fundraising campaign here.

Can you wear that on Mars?

By The Hub team , September 18, 2019

If you can't get to Mars, what's the next best thing? Apparently Iceland. A team of renowned explorers and researchers recently journeyed to Iceland to test a Mars analog suit in a Martian-like environment.

The United sponsored expedition, led by The Explorers Club — an internationally recognized organization that promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air and space — and in partnership with Iceland Space Agency, involved the team venturing inside the Grímsvötn volcano and across the Vatnajökull ice cap. The group traveled to the remote location and lived for six days in the Grímsvötn Mountain Huts and endured harsh weather conditions and unstable terrain.

Helga Kristin Torfadöttir, Geologist and glacier guide, using the LiDAR system to map the ground and test the suit's capabilities on the glacier.


The objective of the mission was to explore the potential of concept operations at the Grímsvötn location while testing the suit in an arctic environment similar to what would be found on the surface of Mars. "This mission was an important test of the design of the MS1 suit, but it was also incredibly helpful to understand the how to conduct these sorts of studies in Iceland," said Michael Lye, MS1 designer and NASA consultant and RISD professor. "No matter how thoroughly something is tested in a controlled environment like a lab, studying it in a setting that accurately represents the environment where it will be used is absolutely essential to fully understand the design."

The suit was designed and constructed by faculty and students at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with input and guidance from members of the HI-SEAS IV crew and NASA's Johnson Space Center Space Suit Engineering team. At 50-60 lbs, the suit is similar to what a planetary exploration suit would weigh in Martian gravity. The suit was originally designed to be used in the warm climate of Hawaii, however the martian climate is much closer to what would be found on top of the glaciers in Iceland. The data collected will inform the future of habitat and spacesuit design that can be used to train astronauts on Earth.

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