Community We Serve

The Community We Serve

SI FOundationThe Staten Island Foundation focuses its resources on improving the quality of life for Staten Island residents in the areas of education, health, community services and the arts. The Foundation has a particular interest in directing funds to the least advantaged and partners with hundreds of nonprofit organizations as well as public and private schools, and community leaders.

The Foundation is concerned with the needs and priorities of the community and its service-providing organizations. The borough is frequently considered unique because of its demographics, development, history, geography, and culture. Staten Island’s not-for-profit sector is the borough’s largest industry. More of Staten Island’s jobs are supported by not-for profit organizations than by any other sector, and the not-for-profit organizations in the borough are collectively responsible for over $1.3 billion of direct economic impact on Staten Island each year.

Staten Island is the third largest of New York City’s five boroughs in terms of land mass, with an area of 60 square miles or 13.9 by 7.5 miles. Staten Island is the smallest borough in terms of population; in 1990 it contained only about 5 percent of the City’s population. It was a rural community with farmland until the opening of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in 1964, which began a steady progress of newcomers, resulting in Staten Island becoming much more urban in its character. From 1960 to present time, Staten Island has grown at a greater rate than any of the other New York City boroughs; in 1960 the population was 221,991 and by 2000 nearly 450,000. For nearly two decades, Staten Island has been the fastest growing county in New York State.

With population growth, has come greater cultural, ethnic, and socio-economic diversity. In the 1970s, when large segments of New York City’s middle class moved away from the city, Staten Island saw a significant increase in middle class single family homeowners. Nearly 37% of Staten Islanders claimed Italian-American ancestry in 2003, the highest percentage of any county in the nation. While the overall population on Staten Island grew by 17% during the 1990s, foreign born population grew 63%. The current population of over 478,000 is composed of: 76.6% White, 10.2% Black or African American, 7.5% Asian, 14.7% Hispanic or Latino, 6.7% other races. The Liberian community on Staten Island is the largest, living outside of Liberia. The number of Mexican immigrants has sky-rocketed.

While the median income exceeds $68,000/year, more than 1/4 of Staten Islanders bring home less than $34,999 annually. Of low income households, 41% are white, 31% are Latino, followed by blacks at 22% and Asians at 5%.

The number of households headed by someone born outside the U.S more than doubled to over 25% in 2006. More individuals were living below the poverty line in 2006 than in 1990 (54,000 compared with 38,000). The proportion of households grew in the lower and middle household income brackets and the percent of households in the highest income bracket fell. In 2008, many emergency food programs saw significant increases in demand.

56% of Staten Islanders over the age of 25 have earned an Associates Degree or higher; 12.5% failed to graduate from High School or its equivalent. Many elementary schools have strong standardized test scores, but Staten Island has been listed as a district in need of improvement, especially in the education of English as a Second Language Learners and Special Education Students.

A 2008 independent study focusing on the medical health of Staten Islanders, revealed statistics linked to specific unhealthy lifestyle choices found in the community. Staten Island is the only borough without a public hospital and hospitals on Staten Island are insufficiently funded. Click here to read.

Of particular concern, according to the NYC Department of Health 2006 profiles, smoking rates for adults as well as rates of heart disease are greater for Staten Island than for the city. Stapleton/St. George has the third highest rate of child lead poisoning among all neighborhoods across the city. 18% of North Shore residents (23,000) reported having no health insurance. This is in the top third of city neighborhoods for percent of population uninsured. The Island’s rate of hospitalizations due to mental disorders was higher than the citywide rate in 2000 with the neighborhoods of Port Richmond and Stapleton much higher. The teen substance abuse rate in Staten Island is highest in the city including drinking, smoking, marijuana use and cocaine use.

The average Staten Island commuting resident of has the longest daily commute in the nation. Staten Island is the most geographically separate of the city’s boroughs; the Staten Island Ferry is one of the few public transportation links to Lower Manhattan. Long commuting times and inadequate public transportation contribute to more vehicles on the Island, poor road conditions. Staten Islanders have limited time for community involvement, as well as limited access to resources and opportunities available to other New York City residents.

Staten Island has never had its own master plan. Currently, there are a number of planning projects attempting to identify the strengths and challenges presented to Staten Island as it looks to the future:

  • Stapleton Waterfront Development Plan, a project of the New York City Economic Development Corporation
  • RUDAT, a project of the American Institute of Architects, funded by The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce to create a comprehensive plan for Staten Island’s underdeveloped waterfront
  • A Vision for Staten Island, an inclusive, community-based project facilitated by ACP Visioning & Planning consultants
  • SI 2020, a study produced by The Center for an Urban Future and funded by the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation
  • NYC 2010, a comprehensive plan for New York City

Staten Island is also home to a number of cultural sites and parks including: Historic Richmond Town, a restoration of colonial buildings such as America’s oldest elementary school; The Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, the largest collection of Tibetan art outside Tibet with Himalayan-style monastery buildings; Snug Harbor Cultural Center, home of multiple museums and cultural organizations, including the Chinese Scholar’s Garden, the Staten Island Children’s Museum, The Noble Maritime Collection, and The Art Lab; Fort Wadsworth, one of the oldest military installations in the United States and now a national park; the Staten Island Zoo, which has an extensive collection of reptiles, an aquarium, tropical forest, African savannah and a children’s farmyard; the Alice Austen House Museum with its beautiful views of the harbor in native Staten Island photographer Alice Austen’s Victorian cottage; the Greenbelt a 2,800-acre nature preserve that includes High Rock Park and the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge; and South Beach with a beautiful boardwalk and recreation areas.

For more information on Staten Island, please click here:

(Photos from left to right courtesy of St. Mary’s Food Pantry, Classroom, Inc., Vision for Staten Island Project)