How 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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