Sandy Hook Promise Honors U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan and U.S. Congressman Fred Upton for Protecting Kids Nationwide

Newtown, CT — Sandy Hook Promise (SHP)’s seventh annual Promise Champions Gala event will recognize U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and U.S. Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI) for their commitment to prioritizing student mental health and keeping schools safe. Held virtually, the event will underscore the current challenges of youth mental health in the U.S. and the work that Sen. Hassan and Rep. Upton are doing with Sandy Hook Promise to get students the support they need.

Both honorees helped pass and fund SHP’s flagship bipartisan legislation, the STOP School Violence Act, providing federal funding for evidence-based school violence and suicide prevention training for middle and high school students. The legislation aims to scale proven early intervention programming for schools across the country to prevent school shootings, suicides, mental health crises, and other forms of school violence.

Senator Hassan was the lead sponsor for the recent Senate introduction of the STANDUP Act, also co-sponsored in the House of Representatives by Representative Upton, further demonstrating their enduring commitment to youth suicide prevention and mental health support.

“The mental health challenges facing youth right now will go on long after the start of the new school year. And as the number of guns and incidents of violence continue to increase nationwide, we must take extra care to do all we can to protect our children,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “The steadfast commitment that Sen. Hassan and Rep. Upton share for keeping schools and kids safe give me hope for the future.”

“Gun violence is invading every aspect of American life: schools and churches, concerts, nightclubs, and movie theaters, and our homes and workplaces. It is Congress’s responsibility to act to help stop the gun violence plaguing our communities. As a mother, a Senator, and an American, I believe we must do everything that we can to protect our kids and make sure that what happened at Sandy Hook, Columbine, or Parkland never happens again,” Sen. Hassan said. “This year, too, we’ve seen how the stress and isolation brought on by COVID-19 has impacted our mental health, making it more important than ever that we provide young people the support and resources they need to improve their mental health and prevent suicides. It is an honor to be recognized by Sandy Hook Promise, an organization that has tirelessly worked to protect our children and communities.”

“It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated our youth mental health crisis and contributed to an alarming rate of suicides nationwide. We also know that – long before this vicious virus reared its ugly head – our children still live in fear of the scourge of gun violence that too often afflicts our schools. Simply put, we cannot allow these tragic trends to continue – especially in our schools – and we must take concrete steps toward providing treatment and resources to those who struggle with mental health challenges as well as implement common sense gun safety laws that save lives,” said Rep. Upton. “Whether it be mental health or school safety, kids can’t learn if they feel unsafe and we need to make sure our schools have the proper resources to protect both students and teachers. Sadly, I have met with some of the survivors of Columbine, Parkland, and Sandy Hook and know their trauma that lasts a lifetime. I pledge to continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to better support and protect our children, and I want to especially thank the Sandy Hook Promise for the important work they do to keep our schools safe and prioritize our children and their wellbeing.”

This year’s virtual event takes place on June 16 and will highlight the youth’s perspective on violence prevention with commentary from Sandy Hook Promise’s National Youth Advisory Board members. The event will also feature stories of interventions and positive impact from schools nationwide using Sandy Hook Promise’s Know the Signs programs.

The honorary co-chairs for this year’s gala are Senate Majority Leader and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), Senate Democratic Leader and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), and U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes (D-CT). They are joined by esteemed business and philanthropic leaders and volunteers from across the nation who are creating change within their local communities.

To date, more than 12 million people nationwide have participated in Sandy Hook Promise’s proven Know the Signs programs that focus on prevention to help end the epidemic of gun violence by training youth and adults how to identify at-risk behavior and intervene to get help before a tragedy can occur. Through these no-cost programs, Sandy Hook Promise has averted countless school shooting plots, teen suicides, and other acts of violence.

To learn more about the organization, the virtual recognition event, or to become a sponsor, visit www.SandyHookPromise.org/gala.

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About Sandy Hook Promise:

Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national nonprofit organization with a mission to end school shootings and create a culture change that prevents violence and other harmful acts that hurt children. Through its life-saving, evidence-informed Know the Signs prevention programs, SHP educates and empowers youth and adults to recognize, intervene, and get help for individuals who may be socially isolated and/or at risk of hurting themselves or others. Through nonpartisan policy and partnerships, SHP advances gun safety, youth mental health, and violence prevention education at the state and federal levels that protect all children from gun violence in their schools, homes, and communities. SHP is led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. 

Media Contact:


Aimee Thunberg | [email protected] | 646-761-5579