Generations of Hope Extends Reach of YCCOSP to York City’s Middle School Students
In 2017, with the vision of helping York’s youth see a brighter future for themselves, Generations of Hope was conceived by Dr. Dominic DelliCarpini, Dean of the Center for Community Engagement, and a group of students from the York College Community Opportunity Scholarship Program (YCCOSP). Together, through the lived experience of York City students in YCCOSP and a generous grant from the Women’s Giving Circle, the program became reality.
Despite having to go virtual during Covid, Generations of Hope has grown and blossomed into what Dr. DelliCarpini intended under the leadership of Cody Miller, Director of Volunteer Engagement, and his corps of student Changemakers: a program that would empower York College Community Opportunity Scholarship Program (YCCOSP) students to help create equity for younger York City students, bringing them into the fold of the program and opening the doors of opportunity they may not have been aware existed. It also allows YCP students another opportunity for experiential learning—learning by doing.
“Covid taught us just how important being in a space devoted to learning and fellowship is,” said DelliCarpini. “It reminded us that because these middle school students had never, even before Covid, experienced a college campus, it was not in their field of vision, their field of hope. Now that we are back in person, that hope is being restored.”
GOH extends its reach on campus and in York
Biweekly sessions of the Generations of Hope (GOH) program are held from noon to 6 p.m. at the Graham Innovation Zone in Brockie Commons and at other locations around York. YCP volunteers work with a certified bus driver to pick up middle school students from their schools and transport them to campus, where they can experience campus life, including a meal in a college dining hall. This year, the program is working with students from two different schools for the first time—a total of 27 students from Jackson K-8 and McKinley K-8.
The Generations of Hope program is based on four cares: care for self, care for others, care for future, and care for community.
“We plan activities around those principles,” said Daphney Adams ’23, Volunteer Engagement Scholar-in-Residence at York College, who serves as team supervisor for the program. “That includes sessions on wellness, physical health, mental health, and nutrition. We also work on innovation-building through games and experiments.”
As a Scholar-in-Residence, Adams receives tuition remission toward achieving her Master of Arts degree in Strategic Management and Leadership. An undergraduate Biology major from Nazareth, PA, she is also taking advantage of her fifth year of eligibility due to COVID to play softball for the Spartans. Her softball teammates first told her about the Scholar-in-Residence opportunity. “I am so glad they did,” she said. “The position fits well with my career goals. I want to work with kids, and I like to work with logistics.”
Adams supervises a team of 11 students, including project coordinators Angelica Blass ‘24 and Merelys De La Cruz Guzman ‘25. Nine or so other York College students volunteer for the program, many from the Honors Community and scholarship programs that require service hours. They serve as OGs, or the “older generation” as opposed to the middle schoolers who are YGs, “younger generation.”
“Lots of students come from the scholarship programs,” Angelica said. “Some do full six-hour shifts, others do an hour or two. They are all from different backgrounds and majors, which is great because we wouldn’t necessarily interact if it weren’t for this program.” This also allows the middle schoolers to see themselves in that diversity.
An opportunity to ‘think differently and aspire to bigger things’
Getting the middle schoolers on campus and around other students from York City who are excelling at the College is key to the GOH program.
“Being able to come visit a college is huge for these students, who come from backgrounds where they wouldn’t necessarily do that,” said Angelica. “It gives them an opportunity to think differently and aspire to bigger things, particularly when they talk to YCCOSP students who tell them about their scholarships.”
“Much of what we do involves getting students out of their everyday routines to see the different opportunities that exist around them,” Angelica said.
A nontraditional student, Angelica is a Psychology Major who has lived in York for a little more than two years. She came to GOH with a background in education—and like other forms of experiential learning at YCP, this program is helping her to find her own future path. “I graduated from high school with an associate degree in early childhood education,” she said. “Friends suggested I would be a good mentor and teacher for this program, and I ended up loving it. I have a passion for teaching and an innate love for connecting and working with children.”
YCP volunteers like Angelica work on instilling skills each session: communication, cooperation, problem-solving, and civil manners. “We talk about coping with feelings and how to communicate,” said project coordinator Merelys. “We are trying to teach them how to navigate conflict in a respectful, civil manner.”
Merelys is a Human Services major from the Dominican Republic who has been living in the United States for four years. She is considering a career in nonprofit management, but she could also see herself continuing to work with kids, perhaps as a camp counselor or teacher. “My passion is creating a sense of community and belonging, so wherever that leads me.”
The focus is fostering skills like these that the middle schoolers can scaffold and build for high school and then college, adds Angelica. “For some, it’s about showing them that college is available to them. For others who don’t go to college, they get skills they can use wherever they go in life.”
In addition, GOH provides some students with an opportunity to take a break from their everyday lives, which often involve a lot of responsibility. “A lot of them are really mature in certain areas because they take on adult responsibilities like caring for younger siblings,” Merelys added. “They deal with big problems, and they don’t realize how responsible they are and the potential they have. GOH is a nice time for them to focus on their needs a bit more rather than having to worry about others.”
“Some of these students have bigger families or have lots of responsibilities,” Angelica said. “This program allows them to be a kid with us.”