Young Scholars LPP of Utica University Receives Excellus Award

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield recently awarded Young Scholars Liberty Partnership Program (YSLLP) of Utica University a Health Equity Award of $30,000 to support Young Scholars Mental Health Equity Programming.

YSLPP provides year-round academic support, counseling and social and cultural enrichment to students from diverse backgrounds and communities of color in grades seven through twelve. These students and their families are among the populations that face overall health disparities, particularly in the mental health area. This program provides mental health support from a licensed social worker for students and their families.

“The Young Scholars LPP social workers are the first and most trusted mental health professionals available to our students and their parents,” explains Pamela Matt, executive director of YSLPP. “Stigma, cultural restrictions and other barriers often prevent students and parents from seeking mental health support. Providing immediate and free access to mental health professionals for each student upon entering the Young Scholars program helps to remove these barriers.”

The YSLPP is a collaborative effort between the Utica City School District and Utica University serving approximately 360 students from diverse backgrounds in grades seven through 12. Students nominated for the Young Scholars program are identified as having strong academic potential, but facing equally strong socioeconomic or other challenges that could keep them from realizing that potential.

The mission of the YSLPP is to provide the necessary support for these students to stay in school, earn a New York State Regents Diploma with advanced designation, graduate college and be career ready.

“We are proud to further our commitment to health equity by supporting programs such as Young Scholars LPP Mental Health Equity Programming,” said Eve Van de Wal, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Utica regional president. “By removing critical barriers to mental health support, they are improving the health and quality of life for future generations in our communities.”

Featured image: Representatives from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield present Health Equity Award to Young Scholars Liberty Partnership Program of Utica University. Pictured left to right: Shayna Keller, Excellus BCBS community investments and partnerships manager; Alyssa Freeman, YSLPP social worker, high school; Pamela G. Matt, YSLPP executive director; Eve Van de Wal, Excellus BCBS Utica regional president; Zanya Ramos Rivera, YSLPP social worker, middle school/family engagement; Mary Hayes Gordon, YSLPP director of program operations. Not pictured: Vanessa Daniels, YSLPP social worker, middle school.