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PR- 168-10
April 20, 2010


New Partnership with Equinox Fitness Clubs will help to nearly Double the Number of New Yorkers with access to Free Fitness Classes, with a Focus on Low-Income Neighborhoods

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris and Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford today released a one-year progress report on NYC Service, the Mayor’s comprehensive initiative to promote a new era of volunteerism in New York City and direct volunteers toward our greatest needs. NYC Service has engaged nearly 120,000 New Yorkers in a wide range of activities, from helping with the City’s H1N1 vaccination and education efforts, to providing tax assistance to low-income families, to beautifying neighborhood blocks, to coating rooftops with reflective white paint. Since its inception last April, NYC Service has launched 33 new or expanded volunteer initiatives and the comprehensive website, located at, has made it easier for New Yorkers to find opportunities to make a difference. More than 231,000 unique visitors to the NYC Service website had access to 1,000 volunteer opportunities, sorted by location, issue area and volunteer skill. The Mayor was joined at the announcement by Executive Director of New York Cares Gary Bagley, Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and CEO of Equinox Fitness Clubs Harvey Spevak. The Mayor, Commissioner Benepe and Mr. Spevak announced a new partnership with Equinox that will help to nearly double the number of New Yorkers that can take free fitness classes as part of NYC Service’s “Shape Up NYC” program, which helps prevent obesity by using volunteers with expertise in fitness to provide free classes, with a concentration on high needs communities.

“A year ago today, we answered President Obama’s call to service with the launch of NYC Service, a strategy to make it easier for New Yorkers to help their neighbors and communities in our shared effort to get our City through the national recession,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We’ve expanded the capacity of nonprofits and public agencies to help them use more volunteers more effectively. We’ve directed our call to action to the issues and locations where help is needed most. We’ve measured our progress against goals. And we’re proving that cities can use citizen service as a serious strategy to address local challenges.”

“Since day one, this administration has focused on increasing public-private partnerships and volunteerism, but we set a new standard over the past year,” said First Deputy Mayor Harris. “We’ve helped more New Yorkers help more of their neighbors, by connecting those who want to serve with the City’s broader efforts to improve our schools, public health and quality of life.”

“We based NYC Service on the idea that ‘everybody’s got something to offer’ – and there is no where in the world that is more true than in New York City,” said Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford. “New Yorkers have responded to our call to action and we expect the program will continue to grow rapidly, serving more and more people and communities each day.”

“We applaud Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership in making NYC Service a strategic priority for the city; it’s been a catalyst for tens of thousands of New Yorkers to get involved in volunteerism,” said Executive Director of New York Cares Gary Bagley. “I’m proud to announce today that because of the support we have received from NYC Service, New York Cares grew its programs by 20 percent and created 25,000 additional volunteer opportunities to meet higher demand for volunteer support as a result of the economic downturn. At a time when our capacity could have been limited, it was NYC Service’s Civic Corps that helped us rebuild our capacity and exceed our ambitious goals.”

NYC Service was launched by Mayor Bloomberg in April 2009 to meet his State of the City pledge that New York City would lead the nation in answering President Obama’s national call to service. The program has three core goals: channel the power of volunteers to address the impacts of the current economic downturn, make New York City the easiest city in America in which to serve, and ensure every young person in New York City is taught about civic engagement and has an opportunity to serve. NYC Service aims to drive volunteer resources to six impact areas where New York City’s needs are greatest: strengthening communities, helping neighbors in need, education, health, emergency preparedness and the environment. New Yorkers can find opportunities to serve their communities by visiting or by calling 311.

Shape Up NYC Expansion

The Shape Up NYC program helps prevent obesity by using volunteers with expertise in fitness to provide free fitness classes in parks, community centers and other locations across the city, with a concentration on the neighborhoods identified by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene with high rates of obesity and illness. When the program was launched in December, it offered 115 free classes a week at 14 locations, with the capacity to serve 4,025 New Yorkers each week. Thanks in large part to the new partnership with Equinox Fitness Clubs, the program will now offer 222 weekly classes at 42 locations and can serve 7,770 New Yorkers each week, a 93 percent increase in the number of New Yorkers that can benefit from the free fitness classes. Diversified classes are offered, including Pilates, dance, martial arts and yoga. The program is a partnership of NYC Service, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Department of Education, the New York City Housing Authority and Equinox Fitness Clubs.

To find a Shape Up NYC class or to volunteer to be a Shape Up NYC instructor, visit or call 311.

“Equinox Fitness Clubs is excited to partner with NYC Service and the Department of Parks and Recreation to expand Shape Up NYC and increase free fitness opportunities across the city” said Harvey Spevak, CEO of Equinox. “We hope to share our innovative approach to fitness and get New Yorkers on the path to health and wellness.”

“Shape Up NYC is the best way in the city to tighten your waistline without stretching your budget,” said Parks Commissioner Benepe. “We are thankful to Equinox for generously agreeing to become the sole provider of adult Shape Up classes for an entire year, as well as all of our partners who are dedicated to ensuring that New Yorkers have free opportunities to reach their health and fitness goals. Good fitness and eating habits are essential to leading a healthy and balanced life, and our parks and recreation centers are great places for regular exercise.”

One-Year Anniversary Report

The NYC Service one-year anniversary report, available at, details the progress made in establishing the nation’s largest comprehensive municipal community service program – the first effort by an American city to develop the capacity to consistently and effectively engage citizens in service as a core strategy to respond to local needs. A primary goal of NYC Service is measuring progress and creating accountability for results, bringing hallmarks of the Bloomberg Administration to the field of community service. In its first year of existence, NYC Service engaged a total 118,827 New Yorkers in serving their city. In addition, tens of thousands of children from New York City schools participated in service projects through the program.

NYC Service is demonstrating that service can be used as a serious strategy to address pressing local challenges. While much work remains, the results show clear progress toward that end, and valuable lessons learned from this first year will strengthen efforts moving forward.

Highlights of Some Major Programs:

NYC Civic Corps: The center-piece program of NYC Service, the NYC Civic Corps, is a first-of-its-kind initiative. Nearly 200 specially trained Americorps VISTA members worked throughout the year to help 56 nonprofits and public agencies use more volunteers more effectively. The Civic Corps members worked to expand the volunteer capacity of these organizations, allowing them to engage 33,502 new community volunteers, who performed more than a quarter-million hours of service and served more than 200,000 New Yorkers in need. The Civic Corps members also raised nearly $2 million in non-cash donations, such as professional services, clothing, food or books. A full listing of all 56 organizations that increased their ability to utilize more volunteers through the work of the NYC Civic Corps can be found in the report.

Flu Fighters: Volunteers were recruited to conduct outreach and awareness activities about the importance of influenza vaccination, assist parents in submitting vaccination consent forms and help weekend H1N1 influenza vaccination clinics – 1,381 volunteers participated in the program, helping the City to vaccinate nearly 800,000 New Yorkers, including more than 120,000 students.

CPR Training: Existing CPR training programs were dramatically expanded by utilizing a ‘train the trainer’ model where New Yorkers were trained in CPR and empowered to share their skills and knowledge with others, drastically increasing the number of New Yorkers equipped with basic life-savings skills – 7,677 people were directly trained in CPR and in turn shared their skills with an additional 22,259 people.

NYC Cool Roofs: Volunteers were mobilized to coat rooftops of participating buildings with reflective, white coating to reduce cooling costs, energy usage and greenhouse emissions – 224 volunteers coated 100,000 square feet of rooftop and this spring an additional 1,000 volunteers are expected to coat an additional 400,000 square feet of rooftops.   

Service in Schools: For the first time, 1,525 City schools created individualized plans to increase opportunities for students to participate in service. Reports from schools principals, detailing the number of students participating in service projects, are currently being complied and will be available this summer.

Financial Empowerment: Volunteers assisted low-income taxpayers with financial counseling and tax form preparation – 655 volunteers.

For a full accounting of all NYC Service Programs, please view the report, available at

NYC Service Funders and Partners

Without the generous donations from the following organizations, the establishment and work of NYC Service would not have been possible: David Rockefeller, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund and the Lizzie and Jonathan M. Tisch Foundation.

NYC Service also benefited from partnerships with the following organizations: Aging Fund in New York Fund; American Red Cross; Anonymous Content; A.R.M.S; BBH New York; Build On; Center for New York City Neighborhoods; Children for Children; Citizen Committee for New York City; City Year New York; Cloud Red; Corporation for National and Community Service; Department of Administrative Citywide Services; Doing Art Together, Inc.; Food Bank for New York City; Fund for the City of New York; Gap Foundation; Green City Force; Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs; Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; Mayor’s Office of Operations; New York Blood Center; New York City Housing Authority; NYC Department of Consumer Affairs; NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; NYC Department of Education; NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development; NYC Department of Parks and Recreation; NYC Department of Youth and Community Development; NYC Law Department; NYC Department for the Aging; NYC Department of Buildings; NYC Office of Emergency Management; NYPD; New York Community Environmental Center; New York Restoration Project; Partnership for Parks; PENCIL; Publicolor; RelightNY; Taproot Foundation; The After-School Corporation; The TCC Group; Todd Selby Photography; and the United Way of New York City.

Numerous media organization also provided support to NYC Service, including: AM New York; Cablevision – Bronx and Brooklyn; Community News Group Publications; El Diario; Emmis radio stations; ESPN Radio; Harlem News Group; Hot 97; Kiss 98.7; Metro NY; New York Daily News; New York Magazine; New York Post; New York Times; NYC Media; Radio Disney; Time Out New York; Time Warner Cable; NYC Village Voice; WABC-AM/WPLJ-FM; WABC-TV; WBLS-FM; WCBS-TV; WNBC-TV; WNYC-TV; WNYW-TV; WPAT -FM/WSKQ-FM; WPIX-TV/11; WRXP-FM; and WWRL-AM.


Stu Loeser/Marc La Vorgna   (212) 788-2958

Judy Taylor (Equinox)   (212) 774-6330

More Resources
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