VIDEO: Young Scholars is the path to academic success for students who face a bumpy road.

Jonathan’s mom was 16 when she had her first child. College was never an option.

His father grew up in Bolivia under the most depressed economic conditions. College was never an option.

“I want to be the first to go to college,” Jonathan says. “I want to go farther than my parents did and make them proud.”

Thanks to the Young Scholars program it looks like Jonathan – a Proctor High School sophomore – is on his way.

He plans to study science, and his dreams of becoming a dentist become more and more attainable with every A he brings home thanks to the help of tutors through the Young Scholars program. A’s alone, however, couldn’t get Jonathan to college, he says emphatically.

“My parents don’t have the background knowledge of what it takes to prepare for college, because they didn’t experience it,” Jonathan says. “Without Young Scholars, I would have been like a fish in the ocean, and I wouldn’t know where to go.”

An investment into our community’s future

Young Scholars has been leading middle and high school students on a path toward high school graduation and college preparation since 1993. Through tutoring, mentoring, college visits and filling in where parents can’t, the program has sent 97 percent of its students to college since 2005.

Since its inception, The Community Foundation has invested nearly $400,000 into the program. Grants made to Young Scholars in 2012 totaled $63,000. Each year, The Foundation also parcels out $40,000 in scholarships to graduating Young Scholars.

This financial support has been increasingly important in recent years as funding from the Utica City School District and other sources have decreased, and in some cases, been eliminated.

“The Foundation’s commitment to The Young Scholars program – both financially and as cheerleaders – has, without a doubt, allowed us to continue functioning all these years,” said Director Flossie Mitchell. “Recent support has and will allow us to continue offering this important program to students at risk of dropping out of school.”