Queens hub of UJA anti-poverty initiative to be renamed following $10 million donation

Philanthropists Shirley and Jack Silver. (Photo courtesy of UJA-Federation New York)

On Monday, the UJA-Federation of New York announced that it received a $10 million legacy gift that will go toward helping New Yorkers out of poverty.

The donation came from longtime New York-based philanthropists Jack and Shirley Silver to fund the UJA’s anti-poverty initiative called Upward New York, which provides its clients with digital food pantries and two social services “hubs” — an existing one in Queens and one coming to Brooklyn in 2023 — that offer various resources to those in need.

The Queens Hub, which will be renamed the Jack and Shirley Silver Hub, was opened in 2020 and is operated by UJA nonprofit partner Commonpoint Queens. Since its inception, the hub has helped more than 5,000 people with food assistance, employment services for more than 550 individuals, financial guidance and mental health counseling.

In addition to the hubs, Upward New York also provides a digital pantry system, develop and implemented with UJA nonprofit partner Met Council. The system began its rollout in 2018 and 11 of 29 pantries in the UJA system have transitioned to the digital system, which allows users to order digitally on iPads.

To date, the system has served more than 2.3 million pounds of food to those in need, including 20 additional satellite locations like senior residences or social service agencies that do not offer food pantry services.

“As lifelong New Yorkers, it is our privilege to help support our fellow New Yorkers with healthy, nutritious food for their families and critical human service services provided in a dignified setting,” said Jack Silver on behalf of himself and his wife, Shirley. “For years to come, people will be able to receive vital services when they need it most.”

Jack Silver founded SIAR Capital and his wife is a former social studies teacher, corporate trainer and founder of the Jack and Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs. The pair have been longtime supporters of Jewish causes and are co-founders of the Jack S. and Shirley M. Silver Foundation as well as the namesakes of the Jack and Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan.

The couple’s recent donation is in addition to their $20 million legacy gift from 2017 that went toward supporting the infrastructure of the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds, the largest Jewish Day Camp System in North America.

“Jack and Shirley set an example for how philanthropy can be a lifeline for New Yorkers.” Eric S. Goldstein, CEO of the UJA-Federation of New York, said. “Their generosity means that UJA will be uniquely positioned to help struggling New Yorkers at a time of immense need.”