David Elien, Jr. ’23

Youth, Education and Sport (YES) Initiative, Pittsfield, MA

David Elien and fellow interns at a company event.This summer I continued to intern with the Youth, Education and Sport (YES) Initiative. YES is a nonprofit organization based in Pittsfield that serves underprivileged youth in the Berkshire area. It’s run by two alums, Brandon Dory ’17 and Patrick Gordon ’17, both of whom played soccer at Williams. The organization’s mission is to put the students in a position where they are successful academically and athletically. They do this primarily through mentorship. YES is very similar to an athletic advising company, and mentors range from current and former college student-athletes to teachers in the Pittsfield area as well as people living in the surrounding communities who want to help the next generation. The program focuses on student-athletes who have strong aspirations of going to college, but whether students wish to continue their journey as an athlete in college or not, people in the YES network can serve as resources for these scholars. Mentors include physical trainers, rehab specialists and tutors. Even college/prep school coaches and admission heads are in our network. The kids track their progress in different areas in both the academic and athletic spheres and meet with their mentors to formulate goals and a plan to reach them.

This summer I had three major projects. The first was producing an ad for YES. It was a compilation of photos and videos of the scholars on Zoom calls playing their sport with a voiceover stating the mission statement of the company and promoting our website. The ad will be sent to donors and played at YES events. The second project was the construction of the financial literacy section of our new YES curriculum. These will be a series of presentations and videos developed by me and other interns that will be available to the scholars. The curriculum ranges from tips to adjusting to college, how to handle professional and personal relationships, the college recruiting process and more. I will continue to work on my section during the school year, because a huge component of mine is interviewing people of color working in financial markets and including their advice in the presentation. The third project I worked on was formulating a plan to host an art auction/benefit for YES sometime this winter. It will be an event with food, live music and a gallery displaying the art before the event.

Through my continued work with YES it has become more and more apparent to me that I work better when I am passionate about something. I never really had a drive to pursue the International Baccalaureate (IB) or do consulting, and although these are always an option, I want to take a chance and look into working in sports management in order to move into a front-office position for a pro sports organization. If I end up doing IB, consulting or something along those lines next year, then I plan on working for YES or another similar organization as a passion project.

I’m very grateful to the Kraft Family and the ’68 Center for enabling me to support myself while I continued to work with YES. It has been a productive and eye-opening experience and essential to my career aspirations.