The Young Scholars Program gives high-achieving students in the Utica City School District the academic, cultural, and social-emotional support needed to reach their full potential as scholars and community members. This program is designed and staffed by education professionals who motivate a diverse and talented pool of students to stay in school, earn a New York State Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, and pursue post-secondary education. Since its inception in 1993, 93% of Young Scholars have graduated high school and 88% have entered college.
This summer, we worked with the Young Scholars Program to grow their alumni network and build a foundation for better involvement. First, we determined the best way to reach out to alumni and diagnosed the effectiveness of the program’s social media presence. Using the alumni database compiled by previous Upstate Fellows, we were able to increase the program’s connection with alumni from 50% to 67% of graduates. Next, we were tasked with coordinating alumni outreach for an event taking place at the end of the summer program, a STEAM Poster Fair. We reached out to former STEAM Scholars, Young Scholars personnel, recent graduates, and alumni who work in STEAM fields. Then, we created advertising materials and used the various Facebook pages to promote the event and gauge attendance based on Facebook’s Insights feature.
Our main project was researching and articulating long term means by which Young Scholars can foster group affinity with alumni in the future. We primarily referred to Colgate University and Hamilton College’s alumni councils regarding the structure of an alumni council. Additionally, through researching alumni engagement strategies at Marlborough School, Harvard Westlake School, and University of Chicago, we found that regional and vocational networks and affinity groups can serve as ways for alumni of all ages to connect, as well as groupings to which to refer in the future for mentoring or internships for students. Additionally, the London School of Economics and Political Science provided multiple inspirations for alumni events with a wide range of activity that can be utilized in the future.