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Ellie Becker

Stamford Y Launches Unique College & Career Readiness Summer Institute June 26

In Partnership With UCONN, Schools, Corps, Hospitals, Gov’t, The Mets – and Broadway!

8-Week Enrichment Program Offers Students Skills Development and Field Experience Culminating in Three-Day Trip to Washington, D.C.

STAMFORD, Conn., June 22, 2017 – The Stamford Family YMCA today announced that it will launch its new LEAD College & Career Readiness Summer Institute on Monday, June 26. The 8-week program is an expansion of The Y’s award-winning Leadership, Enrichment, Acceptance and Development (LEAD) After-School Program. The LEAD Summer Institute is comprised of field trips to business and educational destinations in Fairfield and New Haven County, New York City and New Jersey to provide students with first-hand experiences of the college environment and an array of career options. The finale is a three-day trip to Washington, D.C., where the students will meet with staffers from the Connecticut U.S. Congressional delegation.


Each field trip is preceded by classroom briefings and followed by debriefs that include reflection, discussion and writing/journaling assignments. This classroom work will take place at UCONN in downtown Stamford and will also include presentation skills training by the local Toastmasters chapter.


The program culminates with a dinner at The Y, during which students will present speeches about their LEAD Summer Institute experiences. The inaugural program is fully funded for 26 Stamford High School students by grants from the State of Connecticut 21st Century Community Learning Center and A.T.&T. It is currently fully subscribed with a waiting list.


“The LEAD Summer Institute is designed for students who might not otherwise have exposure to a university environment or career options in fields as diverse as business and finance, the arts, healthcare and medicine, government service, sports and entertainment,” said program director Drew Denbaum, who is also an English teacher at Westhill High School, where there is a satellite LEAD after-school program. “In addition to the experiential benefits of the Summer Institute, we are also emphasizing critical thinking and other confidence and success-building skills. We want students who may not have previously envisioned themselves pursuing college education to see that as a real option.”


“It’s never too early to start preparing young students for success in college and beyond, and we applaud the Stamford YMCA for creating this initiative to support summer enrichment,” said John Emra, president, AT&T Connecticut. “Connecticut will need a fresh crop of talented, innovative leaders if we want to continue to grow our economy and build a dynamic workforce. I am confident many of the young students involved in the LEAD Summer Institute program will become those leaders. We’re proud to support them.”


The LEAD Summer Institute kicks off on Monday morning, June 26 with a Welcome Symposium. Speakers at this orientation include Michael Pollard, Chief of Staff to Mayor David R. Martin; Drew Denbaum, Program Director; Tim Dudics, YMCA VP of Operations, who was responsible for obtaining the grant funding; Sharon Todd, Toastmasters coach; Danielle Jean-Guillaume Sittol, The Y’s Youth, Family & Camp Director; Rashanda Brivett, LEAD coordinator at Westhill High School; and Sue Benton, LEAD teacher in the Summer Institute.


Organizations partnering with The Y to host students and provide career-oriented talks/tours of their operations include: Thomson Reuters (New York City office,) the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Legg Mason and GE Capital (Stamford offices), Stamford Hospital, Yale University, The Lion King (Broadway show, discussion with cast and crew,) the New York Mets (includes a game,) Stamford Police Department (workshop and career briefings,) Six Flags Great Adventure Theme Park (fun and career briefings,) Office of U.S. Representative Jim Himes (Q & A with the Congressman,) UCONN School of Business (college briefings.)


“The LEAD Summer Institute is a shining example of our “Y Without Walls” initiative,” said Stamford YMCA CEO Clinton Hamilton. “Beyond our traditional health, wellness and fitness mission, the Y is uniquely positioned to be a catalyst in our community to support and enrich our students, seniors and citizens of all origins and walks of life. We are humbled by the overwhelmingly positive response to this truly innovative program.”


Working with Stamford High School social studies teacher and coach Jon Boone, who coordinates the LEAD after-school program there, The Y made presentations about the Summer Institute to classes across study areas and provided applications and parental consent forms. According to Denbaum, the program filled quickly and there is now a waiting list.


“We are encouraged by the level of enthusiasm for the Summer Institute among students and parents,” said Denbaum. “We will be working to expand the LEAD satellite programs in Stamford schools and to increase the number of students we can accommodate next summer. We invite organizations and donors who would like to participate with us to grow the LEAD program to contact Tim Dudics by phone at 203-357-7000 x211 or by email to”


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About the Stamford Family YMCA

Since 1868, The Stamford Family YMCA has made its mission to provide the community with a safe and nurturing environment for children and teens to reach their potential; adults to create healthier lifestyles; and neighbors to support each other and give back to the community. The Y strives not to turn people away for inability to pay and operates thanks to the generosity of members, donors and corporate sponsors. The Y is located at 10 Bell Street, just east of Washington Boulevard. It offers complimentary parking for members in the Bell Street parking garage. For further information call 203-357-7000 or visit