BY SUZANNE MONTEVERDI
For this year’s Giving Tuesday, AT&T has partnered with the YMCA of Greater New York City’s Y Scholars Program to help students achieve their dreams.
Giving Tuesday is a holiday created by 92nd Street Y, a New York City community center that enriches the lives of families through the arts. Taking place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday was established in 2012 as a day designed to celebrate philanthropy and generosity in the midst of the holiday season.
This year, AT&T has decided to join efforts with YMCA’s Y Scholars Program.
“New York City is one of the fastest-growing tech and startup scenes in the world, and attracts the top talent and college graduates interested in entering the sector,” said Marissa Shorenstein, president of AT&T New York. “The Y Scholars Program and our official Giving Tuesday partner provides disadvantaged youth with comprehensive services designed to foster and support college aspirations, putting them on a path toward success regardless of background, and we are proud to support their great work.”
Students within the program are in grades 6 through 12 and come from low-income families. Y Scholars are taught interpersonal, leadership and time management skills and are provided with individualized homework help and valuable SHSAT and SAT prep.
The Y Scholars Program has a tremendous impact on the Queens community, with many students in the program hailing from Bayside and Flushing.
“The YMCA is basically like a second home to me,” said Y Scholar Pacielly Morelo, a 16-year-old student at Bayside High School. “You know you can come in here and no one will judge you.”
Since 2009, The Y Scholars Program has made significant efforts to minimize the academic achievement gap in New York City. Ninety-three percent of students involved in the program graduate high school on time, as compared to the NYC average of 65 percent. Last year, 95 percent of scholars were accepted to colleges across the country, including Brown University, Columbia University, SUNY Albany and Hunter College.
Another Queens student spoke about the role the Y has played in her college application process.
“I really needed help applying to college,” said Elisa Martinez, an 18-year-old student at Francis Lewis High School. “I didn’t know what a grant was until now, and that’s really important, especially with my financial needs.” On top of attending school and filling out college applications, Elisa wakes up every Saturday at 4 a.m. to pick up groceries for her family at the local food bank.
When the program began, it served 60 students at two different school in the New York area. Six years later, the program currently impacts more than 1,200 students at 18 different sites across the five boroughs.
“This program has opened up a whole lot of knowledge to me,” said Pacielly. After her mother passed away from cancer, Pacielly became inspired to study oncology. She will be the first person in her family to go to college.
The YMCA and AT&T are not the only organizations participating in Giving Tuesday to positively influence the Queens community.
The Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning is calling upon generous individuals to invest in the community’s future — the children.
JCAL is a nonprofit organization which provides classes for local low-income youths interested in the arts. Offerings include music, theater and dance performances, film screenings and lectures, and visual art workshops. Annually, the organization impacts over 25,000 people of all ages and backgrounds.
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