Graham Hughes ’17 was recently accepted to Rochester Youth Year (RYY), the year-long social justice fellowship program that places recent college graduates in community organizations in Rochester, N.Y.
“Rochester Youth Year is delighted to welcome our inaugural AmeriCorps VISTA member from Hobart and William Smith Colleges,” says Glenn Cerosaletti, assistant dean of students and director of the Rochester Center for Community Leadership at the University of Rochester who oversees the program.
Through the AmeriCorps VISTA-sponsored program, selected fellows work with host organizations to combat poverty among the youth population. Hughes, the first HWS graduate to be named a RYY fellow, will serve on the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI), a community partnership strategy developed by the United Way of Greater Rochester to reduce poverty in the Rochester and Monroe County region.
Hughes, who majored in public policy and minored in history and environmental studies, credits his time with the HWS Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) for landing this position. “I was involved in a number of different organizations and activities while working with CCESL including Alternative Spring Break trips, America Reads and America Counts,” he says. “Last summer I worked as a Summer of Service intern for the office during which time I was placed at the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva. That was a really wonderful experience in service and ultimately what pushed me to apply for this AmeriCorps program.”
With RMAPI, Hughes will develop strategies to increase community input in anti-poverty decision making, facilitate the implementation of collective impact model among partners and help prompt the community-wide adoption of the initiative’s guiding principles. This work builds on Hughes’s involvement on and off campus at HWS which included studying abroad in Korea, serving as president and captain of the Hobart club soccer team, and serving as a member of the collective Tools for Social Change in Geneva.
“Graham’s academic background and co-curricular experiences at the Geneva Boys and Girls Club and Geneva 2020 have prepared him well to help build the capacity of the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative,” says Cerosaletti.
RRY is administered by the Rochester Regional Network, a consortium of eight regional colleges, which HWS joined in 2016. To date, 67 fellows have completed a year of service at 44 different community partner organizations. In the seven years since RYY became an AmeriCorps VISTA program, service members have mobilized more than 6,600 community volunteers, who in turn have logged almost 78,000 hours of service. RYY fellows have generated more than $1.3 million in cash and in-kind resources for projects in the community.
“I am hoping this position will allow me to do meaningful work in a new community that I hope to become a part of and simultaneously explore a variety of potential career paths along the way,” says Hughes.
RYY is accepting student applications. Interested seniors can apply here.