United announces $8 million to boost eight hub communities
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Right now, around the world, brave members of America's armed forces are on duty, defending our freedom and upholding our values.
When not laser-focused on the mission at hand, they're looking forward to the day when their service to our nation is fulfilled and they can reunite with their families.
They are also imagining how they can use their hard-earned skills to build an exciting, rewarding and important career when they return home.
I want them to look no further than United Airlines.
That's why we are focused on recruiting, developing and championing veterans across our company, demonstrating to our returning women and men in uniform that United is the best possible place for them to put their training, knowledge, discipline and character to the noblest use.
They've developed their knowledge and skills in some of the worst of times. We hope they will use those skills to keep United performing at our best, all of the time.
That's why we are accelerating our efforts to onboard the best and the brightest, and substantially increasing our overall recruitment numbers each year.
We recently launched a new sponsorship program to support onboarding veterans into United and a new care package program to support deployed employees. It's one more reason why United continues to rank high - and rise higher - as a top workplace for veterans. In fact, we jumped 21 spots this year on Indeed.com's list of the top U.S workplaces for veterans. This is a testament to our increased recruiting efforts, as well as our efforts to create a culture where veterans feel valued and supported.
We use the special reach and resources of our global operations to partner with outstanding organizations. This is our way of stepping up and going the extra mile for all those who've stepped forward to answer our nation's call.
We do this year-round, and the month of November is no exception; however, it is exceptional, especially as we mark Veterans Day.
As we pay tribute to all Americans who have served in uniform and carried our flag into battle throughout our history, let's also keep our thoughts with the women and men who are serving around the world, now. They belong to a generation of post-9/11 veterans who've taken part in the longest sustained period of conflict in our history.
Never has so much been asked by so many of so few.... for so long. These heroes represent every color and creed. They are drawn from across the country and many immigrated to our shores.
They then freely choose to serve in the most distant and dangerous regions of the world, to protect democracy in its moments of maximum danger.
Wherever they serve - however they serve - whether they put on a uniform each day, or serve in ways which may never be fully known, these Americans wake up each morning willing to offer the "last full measure of devotion" on our behalf.
Every time they do so, they provide a stunning rebuke to the kinds of voices around the world who doubt freedom and democracy's ability to defend itself.
Unfortunately, we know there are those who seem to not understand – or say they do not - what it is that inspires a free people to step forward, willing to lay down their lives so that their country and fellow citizens might live.
But, we – who are both the wards and stewards of the democracy which has been preserved and handed down to us by veterans throughout our history – do understand.
We know that inciting fear and hatred of others is a source of weakness, not strength. And such divisive rhetoric can never inspire solidarity or sacrifice like love for others and love of country can.
It is this quality of devotion that we most honor in our veterans - those who have served, do serve and will serve.
On behalf of a grateful family of 96,000, thank you for your service.
Each year around Veterans Day, Indeed, one of the world's largest job search engines, rates companies based on actual employee reviews to identify which ones offer the best opportunities and benefits for current and former U.S. military members. Our dramatic improvement in the rankings this year reflects a stronger commitment than ever before to actively recruiting, developing and nurturing veteran talent.
"We've spent a lot of time over the past 12 months looking for ways to better connect with our employees who served and attract new employees from the military ranks," said Global Catering Operations and Logistics Managing Director Ryan Melby, a U.S. Army veteran and the president of our United for Veterans business resource group.
"Our group is launching a mentorship program, for instance, where we'll assign existing employee-veterans to work with new hires who come to us from the armed forces. Having a friend and an ally like that, someone who can help you translate the skills you picked up in the military to what we do as a civilian company, is invaluable. That initiative is still in its infancy, but I'm really optimistic about what it can do for United and for our veteran population here."
Impressively, we were the only one of our industry peers to move up on the list, further evidence that we're on a good track as a company.
The question of where David Ferrari was had haunted retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Vincent Salceto for the better part of 66 years.
Rarely did a week go by that Salceto didn't think about his old friend. Often, he relived their last moments together in a recurring nightmare. In it, it's once again 1953 and Salceto and Ferrari are patrolling a valley in what is now North Korea. Suddenly, explosions shatter the silence and flares light up the night sky.
Crouching under a barrage of bullets, Salceto, the squad's leader, drags two of his men to safety, then he sees Ferrari lying face down on the ground. He runs out to help him, but he's too late. And that's when he always wakes up.
Italian Americans from opposite coasts – Salceto from Philadelphia, Ferrari from San Francisco – the two became close, almost like brothers, after being assigned to the same unit during the Korean War. When Ferrari died, it hit Salceto hard.
"After that, I never let anyone get close to me like I did with Dave," he says. "I couldn't; I didn't want to go through that again."
When the war ended, Salceto wanted to tell Ferrari's family how brave their son and brother had been in battle. Most of all, he wanted to salute his friend at his gravesite and give him a proper farewell.
For decades, though, Salceto had no luck finding his final resting place or locating any of his relatives. Then, in June of this year, he uncovered a clue that led him to the Italian Cemetary in Colma, California, where Ferrari is buried.
Within days, Salceto, who lives in Franklinville, New Jersey, was packed and sitting aboard United Flight 731 from Philadelphia to San Francisco with his wife, Amy, and daughter, Donna Decker, on his way to Colma. For such a meaningful trip, he even wore his Army dress uniform.
That's how San Francisco-based flight attendant Noreen Baldwin spotted him as he walked down the jet bridge to get on the plane.
"I saw him and said to the other crew members, 'Oh my goodness, look at this guy,'" she says. "I knew there had to be a story."
The two struck up a conversation and Salceto told Baldwin why he was traveling. She got emotional listening to him talk and made a point of fussing over him, making sure he and his family had everything they needed.
About halfway through the flight, Baldwin had an idea. She and her fellow crew members would write messages of encouragement to Salceto and invite his fellow passengers to do the same.
"We did it discreetly," says Baldwin. "I asked the customers if they saw the man in uniform, which most had, and asked them if they wanted to write a few words for him on a cocktail napkin. A lot of people did; families did it together, parents got their kids to write something. After the first few rows, I was so choked up that I could barely talk."
When Baldwin surprised Salceto with dozens of hand-written notes, he, too, was speechless. He laid the stack on his lap and read each one. At the same time, the pilots made an announcement about the veteran over the loud speaker, after which the customers on board burst into applause.
"It seems contrived, and I hate using the word organic, but that's what it was; it just happened," Baldwin says. "Mr. Salceto was so loveable and humble, and what he was doing was so incredible, it felt like the right thing to do. And you could tell he was touched."
On June 27, Salceto finally stood before Ferrari's grave and said that long-awaited goodbye. As a trumpeter played "Taps," he unpinned a medal from his jacket and laid it reverently on the headstone.
"I had gotten a Bronze Star for my actions [the night Ferrari died] with a 'V' for valor, and that was the medal I put on Dave's grave," says Salceto, pausing to fight back tears. "I thought he was more deserving of it than I was."
For the first time in years, Salceto felt at peace. His mission was accomplished.