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Pam Way on the Mentor Program

August 28, 2019

hands in a circleA Young Scholars Program testimonial

What do you want potential Mentors to know about the program?

"I would like potential mentors to know that I understand we are all busy and broke, but this commitment does not have to be taxing on your time or wallet. These mentees come from very little, and so just getting them out of the house to experience something simple like a hike or throwing rocks into a stream is enjoyable to them. Many have large families and no transportation, so all these kids know is their neighborhoods. A trip to the zoo or possibly a nearby farm would be quite the adventure for them." 

- Pam Way


Become a Mentor

Becoming and being a mentor is easy, takes very little of your time and money, and may become the most rewarding experience of your life.


Learn more about how to become a mentor in the Young Scholars Program, and how you can help our community.

Learn More
 

Become a Young Scholars Mentor

March 18, 2019

Young Scholars group shotHow You Can Help Our Community

Serving as mentors to the amazing young people in the Young Scholars program is among our most rewarding experiences. Join us by learning about the program here, and see why so many find this program so gratifying.


The Young Scholars Program

The Young Scholars Liberty Partnerships Program (YSLPP) is a multi-year collaborative project between Utica College and the Utica City School District (UCSD) to motivate diverse and talented students to stay in school, earn a New York State Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, and pursue post-secondary education.

Each year, Young Scholars serves approximately 350 students from grades 7 through 12. UCSD teachers nominate students in sixth grade who show promise, but who may not achieve their full potential due to social and/or economic factors. The finalists are selected by a volunteer panel of professionals from the area.

Chosen students receive year-round academic support including a summer program prepping them for the following school year, college and career exploration, social and emotional support provided by counselors and staff, community service, and enrichment activities. If the student is fortunate enough, they are also paired with a mentor.

The program has been quite successful, as the impressive results show in the YSLPP brochure. More than one hundred YSLPP students have served as summer interns in the local community, and the program’s partnership with Workforce Development has provided hundreds of its students with summer jobs.



Mentorship

An important part of the Young Scholars program is pairing adult mentors with program participants. Mentors are volunteers who serve as positive role models, give students guidance and advice, and provide fun social and cultural enrichment experiences. Experiences are often as simple as a visit to the mall, a lunch out together, taking in a sporting event or movie, or going for a walk at the park. Many activities are free, so it doesn’t cost a lot, in money or time. In fact, the minimum commitment is only 2-4 hours a month. Some mentors have one student they provide support to, and many mentor multiple students, often participating in activities with several students together. Many mentors have kids of their own, and bring their mentees along during family events.

While mentoring means a very modest commitment of time, mentors can make a tremendous impact on the lives of these promising young people. Mentors say they get more from the experience than the students do, and often form lasting friendships with their mentees. With a small investment in time, mentors make a big difference in the community.



Becoming a Mentor

Although a number of First Source staff and Members have joined with other community members to serve as mentors, the program can use more. Some 60 mentors serve now, and the program would like to grow that number to 100, so we are encouraging you to consider joining us as a mentor and making a difference in the life of a Young Scholar. If you have a friend or family member who you think would make a great mentor, encourage them to apply as well.

Becoming a mentor is a simple process with just a few qualifications. The first step is filling out an application and a Background Check authorization. You must have a valid NYS driver’s license, and be willing to commit to the program for one year. Once you are qualified, the program provides an orientation, and ongoing support to help you get started and continue to provide fulfilling experiences for your mentee.



Why First Source is Invested in the Program

We are very excited to continue to partner with this tremendous program to help fulfill the dreams of our youth here in the Mohawk Valley, as their goals align with our community mission. We provide financial support, fill leadership roles, offer job shadowing and internships to Young Scholars interested in banking and/or financing, donate tools to teach financial literacy in their summer program, team up with Young Scholars for community service, and encourage our staff and Members to volunteer as mentors. 


How Can Your Place of Work Get Involved?

To teach community members more about the program, Young Scholars offers 30-minute “Lunch & Learn” presentations and workshops for any sized group, organization, or business. Simply contact them to schedule a presentation for your workplace or organization. 

Individuals can learn more by contacting Linda Stewart, Mentor Coordinator, by email at lbstewart@utica.edu, or phone at 315-792-3237. Join us in becoming a mentor, and help our students Grow Big Dreams. 



“The positive and empowering effects of being a mentor are immeasurable and I am both thrilled and proud to be part of the YSLPP mentoring experience.” 
- Kim Van Duren, Mentor
 


“Mentoring is something that has changed my life in the most positive way. I always find that mentoring has truly made me have a more profound understanding of today’s youth. I feel that no matter what, both of my mentees know that they have someone with whom to share a laugh or an important conversation. Mentoring is a never-ending gift, a mentoring situation that after graduation will hopefully turn into a lifelong friendship." 
- Dennis Hahn, Mentor


“We text frequently and do as many fun activities as we can together. She attends family functions with me because she truly is my second daughter. Watching her grow is incredible and I know there's much more that Young Scholars is going to see from Areiana in the future.” 
- Alicia Adamczyk, Mentor 

 

First Source Helps Choose Young Scholars

April 13, 2016

Young Scholars Selection CommitteeWe’ve written about the Young Scholars Liberty Partnerships Program (YSLPP) before, and our new entry takes you behind the scenes. This multi-year collaborative project between Utica College and the Utica City School District (UCSD) is designed to motivate talented students to stay in school, earn a New York State Regents Diploma, and pursue post-secondary education.

Each year, Young Scholars serves approximately 350 students from grades 7 through 12. UCSD teachers nominate students in sixth grade—those who possess potential for success in secondary and post-secondary school, but who may not achieve their full potential due to social and economic factors—and the finalists are selected by a panel of professionals from the area.

Chosen students receive mentoring, counseling by social workers, a summer program prepping them for the following school year, college and career exploration, community service, and enrichment activities.

This year, Pam Way, our Community Relations Specialist, was on the selection committee, a group charged with the difficult task of narrowing 160 candidates down to 60 students. Once a year, this group meets to review the nominated students, and select those who will go on in the program.

“I was honored to have been asked to join the Young Scholars selection committee, and take part in the process of selecting the newest cohort of Young Scholars students,” Pam said. “There were up to 30 educators and community leaders present on selection day, and I was paired with several educators who were familiar with the process.”

Each set of 3 committee members received 15 student files containing students’ last 3 years of grades, attendance records, disciplinary records, teachers’ nominations, personal essays, student interviews, and parent/guardian questionnaires.

“I felt the moisture in my eyes gather as I read their personal appeals for help,” Pam relates. “It was very difficult to choose one deserving child over another. You can change one child’s future, and at the same time, severely disappoint another.

“It was amazing to see how these sixth grade students really knew what the Young Scholars program was all about! Their essays described how being selected would shape them as students and individuals, and give them a greater balance of academic, personal, and social growth. There are many factors to consider. To say the decisions were difficult is an understatement.”

The program has proven quite successful. Program graduates have a 93% graduation rate, 88% with regents or advanced regents diplomas, and since 2005, 86% of them have enrolled in college. A number of YSLPP students have served as summer interns in the local community, and the program’s partnership with Workforce Development has provided hundreds of its students with summer jobs.

We are very excited to have partnered with Utica College’s Young Scholars Program, and feel that their goals align very well with our community mission. We are already working to expand our partnership to help fulfill the dreams of more of our youth here in the Mohawk Valley, with job shadowing and internships for Young Scholars interested in banking and/or financing, donations of tools to teach Financial Literacy in their summer program, and plans to team up with Young Scholars this fall for community giveback for the Stevens-Swan Humane Society.

Posted in: Blog, Posts

How does our community change lives?

January 20, 2016

YoungScholarsChanging young lives requires a dedicated investment of time, energy, hard work, and persistence. And a big dose of faith in the ability of our community’s young people to overcome the challenges life often puts in their way.

One local not-for-profit organization is doing that hard work, and making an enormous difference in the lives of our local youth, and by translation, in our community. That organization: the Young Scholars Liberty Partnership Program.

A multi-year collaborative project established in 1993 with Utica College and the City of Utica School District, the program was designed by education professionals to motivate diverse and talented students to stay in school, earn a NYS Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, and be college- and career-ready.

The Young Scholars Program services more than 350 students from the Utica City School District. Teachers identify and nominate at-risk youth when they are still young (sixth grade). Students who have the potential for success in secondary and post-secondary school, but who are underachieving because of various social and economic risk factors, are recommended for this program free of charge. They move into the program when they are ready, from seventh through twelfth grades.

Program goals include:

  • Maintaining an A or B average
  • Earning a NYS Regents diploma with Advanced designation
  • Completing at least 150 hours of community service
  • Enrolling in post-secondary education

First Source first became involved in this wonderful program by taking the role of Executive Dream Sponsor of the Young Scholars Grow Big Dreams Celebration Dinner, an inaugural event to celebrate the staff, students, and families involved.

Why did we decide to become involved?

  • Education is a key component of our children’s success, and the success of our community.
  • First Source is an educational financial institution at our core. Our roots are based in education (we started as the Utica Teachers Federal Credit Union in 1938).
  • Education is a big part of the value we provide to our Members and community! For example, we don’t just lend money; we explain why a particular loan is the best fit, and what you can do to help keep your credit in good standing.
  • We love that the program is run through a college, but is actually helping high school students. It touches on both secondary and higher education, and focuses on local kids, nurturing their potential, and helping them to achieve success.
  • Our involvement will only keep growing over time, as the success of this investment in our children is paying off in big ways for them, their families, and Central New York.

Do you want to make a concrete difference in the lives of others? Then please join us in contributing whatever you can to this wonderful program. To donate now, please go to the donation page on the Young Scholars website. Your assistance helps raise awareness of the program, and funds its important work (the average cost is $1,500/student). Thank you!

Posted in: Blog, Posts

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