David Elien, Jr. ’23

Youth Education Sports Initiative, Pittsfield, MA

This summer I interned remotely with the Youth Education Sports Initiative (YES), a nonprofit that operates in Berkshire County. Our mission is to mentor underserved youth through their academic and athletic journeys in order to become college-educated leaders in their communities. As a student-athlete, this mission resonates with me and I really enjoyed the work that I did this summer and the fact that did almost all of my work with the two co-founders, Patrick and Brandon, who were very accessible and more than happy to answer any questions I had in depth.

Working hard from home!

Most of my work fell in two areas of their operations: grant writing/research and scholar engagement. I researched potential funding sources to apply to, and I actually wrote a couple grant proposals which was a a great learning experience. Along with the grant work, I helped plan the school year curriculum and events for their scholars. YES has eight scholars allowing them to track their progress in great depth. I assisted by helping construct the premade goal matrix for each scholar, and a media list which is a collection of books, music, and art pieces that reiterate our values. I also reached out to a company called Whoopi to secure wristbands that help the scholars monitor their physical health, sleep, and habits.

I can’t even begin to sum up how poignant this experience has been for me. Through it, I realized that I ultimately want to empower and educate others less fortunate, so that they have the resources to increase their personal and generational wealth. Although the work I was doing didn’t impact lots of people, I witnessed enough about the difference a program like YES can make; so, when I imagined a similar program on a larger scale, I realized that the impact could be astronomical. I’m planning on working with YES during the school year, hopefully getting more opportunities to connect with the scholars as they’ll be back in the swing of school by then. I was able to work with Brandon and Patrick very closely, and because of that I developed a great relationship with them as well. Both will serve as mentors for me professionally, and also through my Williams experience (they’re both alums). When they offered the chance to come back it was a no-brainer.

I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity. Thank you to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for helping me through the process of connecting with YES, and thank you to the Kraft Family for providing the opportunity. Like I said, this was a perspective changing experience and y’all helped me unlock it.