An agreement between Hillside and the Utica City School District (UCSD) will bring Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection (HWSC), a nationally recognized youth-development program, to three Utica schools beginning in the 2023-2024 academic year. HWSC is now hiring to fill key positions for the Utica program launch.
Founded in 1987, HWSC partners with participating districts to support students who are at heightened statistical risk of not graduating from high school. The program’s wraparound services help those students graduate on time and with work-readiness skills that position them for success in their adult lives.
HWSC currently operates in school districts in the Syracuse, Rochester and Binghamton metro areas of New York State, as well as in Prince George’s County, Maryland. In Syracuse, 96 percent of students from the Class of 2021 who remained in the program throughout all four years of high school graduated on time.
“We are excited to begin working with Utica students, educators, families and the community at large on this important partnership,” said Maria Cristalli, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hillside. “Evidence-based HWSC has been proven to make a difference in the lives of participating students—giving them the skills and supports that allow them to achieve their goals of graduation, college and career.”
The core of the Hillside program is the close relationship formed between participants and their HWSC Youth Advocate, a dedicated professional placed in the school who works closely with the student, their teachers and school staff, the student’s family and other community partners. The student is connected to supportive services in three areas:
- Academic Support—Tutoring, in school or at designated locations, supplements traditional classroom learning and helps students improve in vulnerable academic areas. Strong communication between YAs and teachers ensures that assignments and in-class obligations are met.
- Youth Development—Through regular check-ins with student families and other community supports, the YA provides guidance and advice that helps students stay focused and on course.
- Job Readiness—HWSC helps students define their career goals and build soft skills, while they receive practical experience through the program’s Youth Employment Training Academy. Following YETA certification, students can work part-time with a HWSC Employment Partner to earn money while boosting their time-management and entry-level workforce skills. YETA certification also leads to higher on-time graduation rates: Among the Syracuse classes of 2021, 100 percent of YETA-certified and employed HWSC students graduated on time.
Students typically join HWSC in grades 7 through 9. In the 2023-2024 academic year, 10 HWSC Youth Advocates will serve up to 350 eligible students in UCSD’s Proctor High School, Donovan Middle School and John F. Kennedy Middle School.
Brian Nolan, acting Superintendent of the Utica City School District, called the HWSC-Utica partnership “a life-changing opportunity” for students who will participate in the program. “The Hillside Youth Advocates will provide our students with structure and motivation for greater opportunities and choices,” Nolan said. “We are so very excited for what this engagement brings to the Utica School community.”
Hillside is now hiring to fill open HWSC Youth Advocate positions in Utica as well as Syracuse and other locations. To review all current openings, visit Hillside.com/Careers.