In 2007, Y-AIM was just an idea. Big Y and the D'Amour Family have a long history of supporting and recognizing education and student achievement in the surrounding cities and towns. However, at the time, impacting the local school district and the young people was the low graduation rate, poor attendance and student and parent engagement. As one of the largest employers in the greater area how could Big Y make an impact and help prepare students for the work place. Big Y researched and studied successful programs in the country and took that knowledge, along with the support of community partners created Springfield Work-Scholarship Connection. In 2008, Big Y supplied human resources in the form of a dedicated Big Y employee on loan, as well as financial support for hiring a position to be called a youth advocate to work in a local high school. The youth advocate would follow a group of students (cohort) through their years of high school with the immediate goal of attaining graduation, and higher education. In 2010, Big Y recognized the additional challenges facing the youth and partnered with the YMCA of Greater Springfield to provide a wider support system and to take over the daily operations of the program. The program became known as Y-AIM. (A)chieve academically, (I)nspire to attend college, (M)ove toward personal, family and community advancement.
Big Y has been a great sponsor of Y-AIM by providing various resources that include: human capital, job placement, academic scholarships, and financial support of over $340,000 to help sustain Y-AIM.
The explicit goal of Y-AIM is to provide talented, underachieving at-risk youth entering the 9th grade with a solid support system throughout all four years of high school as a means to assure graduation from high school, pursuit of higher education, and access to gainful employment in the global marketplace. Goals of Y-AIM: • Increase attendance rate for all students • Increase graduation rate for all students • Develop youth education and employability skills By Achieving These Goals, Students Will: • Show improvement in core subjects • Pass MCAS exams • Increase performance and participation on PSAT, SAT, and ACT exams • Increase post-secondary options for high school graduates • Develop effective leadership skills for the future
The community at large benefits from the services and support systems the Y-AIM program provides to its youth. Y-AIM changes lives and provides opportunities for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, such as: one-on-one mentoring, academic tutoring, college exploration and tours, workforce readiness skills, job exploration and placement. In addition, life skills workshops such as: goal setting, problem solving, critical thinking, financial literacy, conflict resolution, and social networking, and entrepreneurship. Also, Y-AIM students are exposed to work study, leaders club, youth & government, music/video production, technology, and volunteerism/community service. 2013 Statistics: Grade level advancement rate (2013)-87% Graduation rate (2013)- 92% compared to school district graduation rate of 57% Y-AIM works! Its holistic design engages the young people, parents, educators, and mentors in addressing the needs of the local community.
“Over 75 years, Big Y has had a strong commitment to education and the academic achievement of children in our communities. The comprehensive nature of Y-AIM prepares young people from diverse backgrounds with the knowledge and the soft skills they will need to navigate the world of school, work, and community. Helping to build life skills and working with students is such a natural partnership for Big Y, the YMCA of Greater Springfield, and the City of Springfield. I am proud of the impact and the results.” – Charlie D’Amour, President and COO, Big Y Foods, Inc.
Y-AIM has made an impact on the over 110 students it serves throughout the greater Springfield area and has transformed the lives of our youth from being disengaged and disconnected to ambitious, motivated, and productive. The statistics show that the Y-AIM graduation rate of 92% far exceeds the school district rate of 57%. The primary focus is education and our programs are intended to keep our youth on track to graduate high school and move towards gainful employment or college. Y-AIM keeps our young people engaged year round and provides consistent support and guidance throughout their teen years.