Maggie Reid, Staff Writer

YSLPP is a collaborative project between UC and the Utica City School District and was established in 1993. Each year, more than 350 students are served through this program from grades 7 to 12. Students are nominated by UCSD teachers in the sixth grade. The students chosen are those who have shown potential for success but who may not fully achieve it due to social and economic risk factors. It is a year-round program with access to tutors, college visits, career path visits and community service. Since the beginning, 55,000 hours of community service has been completed.

“I was proud of him. He put spotlight on the programand the city itself. That shows a true leader and I couldn’t think of someone more deserving than Ben,” Executive Director of YSLPP Pamela Matt said. “He has a true passion for the individual student. He would drop what he was doing to help a child he was interacting with. They trust and respect him and don’t want to let him down. It’s a rarity to find an individual like that. He lifts them up.”

With this award, the YSLPP was able to bring in Anna Maria Cirrincione, also a UC grad, for staff training on diversity. Cirrincione is currently the interim director of multiculturalism and diversity at SUNY Cortland.

With this training, the staff was able to become more knowledgeable on how to support more diverse backgrounds, how to respond to their needs and how to work with those individuals. Packages of NY state approved professional development programs were also purchased.

According to Atwood, the way to make an area grow is by investing in its education. Young Scholars helps to make accessible a future that was once perhaps beyond their imagining.

“There is such great work going on in Utica. Some of the best educators are from here,” Atwood said. “This is such a great recognition on behalf of all those educators.”