The Young Scholars Liberty Partnerships Program (YSLPP) was established in 1993 as a collaborative effort between the Utica City School District and Utica College to help address the high drop-out rate the district was experiencing, and to graduate students who were ready for life after high school. Too many students were not reaching their academic and personal growth potential. Now, 23 years later, students who are nominated for Young Scholars are students the sixth grade teachers see as having great potential, but who face daunting obstacles to reaching that potential. The YSLPP has been helping students realize and reach their potential with strong success as evidenced by the 93% overall graduation rate, with 2016 being the second class to achieve a 100% graduation rate. The class of 2016 also has the highest percentage of students who earned an Advanced Regents Diploma at 60%. Additionally, 86% of Young Scholars graduates have entered college; 55% have earned a degree, and 40% have earned a Bachelor’s Degree or higher. This success is the result of hard work on the part of students and staff, an unwavering commitment to evidence based best practices, and the support of community partners dedicated to collectively creating a positive social impact.
Reaching potential is a strong focus for the Young Scholars Program. The high graduation rate and college entrance numbers reflect the academic intensity of the program,. The program recognizes that many factors contribute to college success, but one of the most important is to find the college that is the right fit for the student. College visits are necessary for students to get an understanding of what type of college feels right for them, i.e., large universities, small private colleges, or something in between; urban rural or suburban. With funding from Utica College, Young Scholars is able to take students on visits to colleges within a three hour radius, but no further.
Funds raised through Madison County Gives would allow the program to provide two college-related needs. The first would be to provide two overnight trips to visit colleges in the New York City area and one other area to be determined. A few of their students have attended college in the greater New York City area, and several times it has been Young Scholars staff or mentors who used their private vehicles to take them on a visit or move them in. The opportunities available in large metropolitan areas are not generally considered by YSLLP students because they have not had exposure to them. The far Northern part of the state is another area YSLLP students do not consider. Many of the students would be a good fit at a CUNY, Columbia, NYU, Clarkson Elmira, and many others that are too far to visit in one day. These funds would help the students see the possibilities that exist by expanding their view of the world, and their place in it.
Additionally, the funds would be used to cover the cost of the ACT exam for students who wish to take that test. While YSLLP is generally able to secure waivers for the SAT exam, waivers for the ACT are not often available at the high school. By taking the ACT exam and expanding their college visits, YSLLP students would increase their visibility to a wider range of colleges and universities, thereby increasing the likelihood of college attendance and success.