Thousands of participants are expected at five cities across the country, including Santa Monica, for the 15th Annual Partnership Walk Sunday, October 25th, benefiting projects supported by the Aga Khan Foundation USA, an organization dedicated to international development.

The local event will be held at the Santa Monica Pier, beginning with opening ceremonies, followed by a 3K walk starting at 11 a.m. and continuing along a scenic route through Palisades Park. The walk will be held simultaneously in major cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Houston, in an effort aimed at ending global poverty.

In addition to individual participants, scores of teams from corporations, universities, schools and community organizations will also be participating. Several civic and community leaders and celebrities are expected to be in attendance. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Congressman Brad Sherman have been guests of honor at the most recent Partnership Walks held in 2007 and 2008.

The Partnership Walk reflects a compassionate effort as global citizens, to build bridges of hope

reaching across boundaries of race, religion, age and gender, an event spokesperson said.

The theme for Partnership Walk 2009 is “Education, the Universal Bridge,” highlighting the successes, expansion and far reaching impact of the Aga Khan Foundation’s educational programs, the spokesperson said. Foundation programs aim to diminish the many obstacles to educational access and achievement in the developing world.

The foundation operates schools and other educational

services in over 300 facilities ranging from day care centers to higher secondary schools. Through increased access to education and with a focus on maximizing reach, the foundation aims to help communities in developing countries break the cycle of poverty.

Partnership Walk 2009 is an all-encompassing program which includes cultural entertainment, development education and awareness. Following the Walk to End Global Poverty, participants can enjoy entertainment featuring various artists and musicians, as well as visit the Global Village in Action, an interactive and educational exhibit on foundation programs.