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CIS of Pennsylvania and York College Team Up to Create College Pathways

By Communities In Schools | Sept. 18, 2023 College & Career Prep Mentoring

Communities In Schools® of Pennsylvania (CISPA) activated an innovative partnership with York College eight years ago that targets younger students, connecting them with mentors and helping them gain exposure to the college experience. The two programs are the York College Leadership Event and the York College Buddy Program. 

The thinking behind the programs is that “If we can expose students to the idea of higher education at an early age, it will motivate them to succeed in the classroom,” says Alex Kadyszewski, Director of South Central PA Programs. Alex was previously a site coordinator with CISPA at McKinley K-8 in York for 7 years when he came up with the idea for the partnership. “I started at a K-8 school and went to college right around the corner, so I’m very familiar with the area and the community.”

“We identified students who are in need of that extra push to explore this area that is right down the street from them at a younger age. By identifying and working with these students at 4th grade at York College, we can continue working with these students throughout their middle school age up to when they get to high school, and then they can start applying for scholarships,” said Alex. 

The Communities In Schools Partnership has been a tremendous asset to our students in The School District of the City of York. I have witnessed our students reach heights of confidence as they receive support from CIS ranging from schoolwork achievement, leadership development, parental engagement, and college exposure. Our partnership with CIS has proved to support graduation success. We are proud the partnership with CIS which has been leveraged to elevate student self-confidence and success! 

-LeTrecia Gloster, Ed.D.
Assistant Superintendent
The School District of the City of York

York College Leadership Event

The York College Leadership Event is a 2-day event each fall and spring semesters, that encourages 4th and 7th grade students to improve and practice their communication, leadership, and teamwork skills. This event also serves as an introduction for York City School District Students to visit York College of Pennsylvania. 

The trip to and from the college is filled with students’ questions about how to attend college, serves as a motivation, and acts as a reminder that this is part of their community and is achievable through hard work.

College students with the supervision and guidance from the professor, and the CIS site coordinator, plan, develop, and implement various activities that encourage 4th and 7th grade students to positively communicate with each other to figure out puzzles, navigate obstacle courses, build various towers, and physical activities. 

The 4th graders who participate in the event have a chance to participate again in 7th grade. This also builds a bridge of information for higher education as students prepare to enroll at the high school.

“The feedback has been excellent,” says Alex. One York College student who participated said, “This is a really great program and very beneficial for the students. It would be neat to add more programs in order to work with the students more.” And another said, “I feel the kids really enjoyed themselves and had fun, as well as the college students.”

York College Buddy Program

The students who get selected for the York College Buddy Program go to York College every Thursday during the fall or spring semesters. College students, with the supervision and guidance from the professor, coordinate with the CISPA site coordinators to plan the programming.

In the Buddy Program, 8th grade students are each paired with a college student who plans for each week’s activities with their professor prior to the class beginning. This is a requirement of the class for college students to earn credits. Based on surveys from their 8th grade buddies, the college students plan several activities such as:

  • Personalized tour of the campus with their college buddy. 
  • Homework/classwork assistance
  • Physical activities
  • Access to labs, art, and engineering activities
  • Crafts and projects such as campus scavenger hunts, buddy tie dye and trips to campus library

In turn, college students gain exposure to who lives in their community and what role they can play in helping younger students succeed. Bonds and friendships are formed between college students and their buddies, and in some cases, they still connect years after the program has ended. 

One college student commented, “It was a pleasure working with my buddy, and this experience was beyond amazing. I wish we had more time!” 

This program also encourages 8th grade students to apply next year for the York College Community Opportunity Scholarship Program (YCCOSP) scholarship. The goal of the YCCOSP program is to provide accepted William Penn High School scholarship recipients with: additional enrichment and support services leading to their successful completion of high school and readiness for college; the opportunity to attend York College of Pennsylvania with a full tuition scholarship; and support to successfully complete the requirements for a bachelor's degree. 

It always puts a smile on my face when I see how excited the students get when they get to see the campus especially, when they make a connection with their buddies! It’s pretty cool being part of this connection with the college because I went to York College for my bachelors, had Dr. Maitoza as my advisor, and I actually took this class during my time at the college, so I got to see both sides of the program. This program is so beneficial to the York City students who get to participate in it because it can spark an interest for furthering their education and so they see that the College isn’t just something they see from the outside.

-John Prego, CISPA Site Coordinator

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