FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1Berkshire Youth Leadership Program Celebrates Class of 2021 Commencement
May 5, 2021 – Berkshire County, MA – On Tuesday, May 4, 1Berkshire had the great pleasure of celebrating the commencement of the Youth Leadership Program’s Class of 2021 via Zoom. Having completed the entirety of this 10-month leadership program, 31 students shared the products of their collective impact projects with attending family, friends, and regional leaders, and were recognized for their program completion. The Class of 2021 is the 11th class in the program’s history.
This was a year unlike any other for the Youth Leadership Program. Though the class applied to the program prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health guidance precluded in-person meetings throughout the course of the year. As a result, from their kickoff retreat over the summer through their Commencement, the students have participated in the program virtually.
For their collective impact project, the class was organized into five groups and they chose to focus on the broad topics of racism and the environment. Each group of students addressed these topics in its own way. Students created social media accounts on the topic of racism in schools and in society more broadly, organized an anti-racism workshop to be held for their peers featuring an expert from Multicultural BRIDGE, created a social media campaign around reducing the impacts of fast fashion and reducing waste locally, and organized a park cleanup.
Program Director Ben Lamb noted in his remarks that “The past year has been challenging and uncertain for us all, but [the Class of 2021] truly rose to the occasion. [The class] did not shy away from addressing some of the most daunting issues our society faces, and showed a flexibility and persistence for which we should all be proud.”
The 1Berkshire Youth Leadership Program is made possible through the financial support of sponsors Berkshire Bank, Greylock Federal Credit Union, and Cohen Kinne Valicenti & Cook, and with additional support this year from Neenah Technical Materials and NBT Bank. The program is coordinated by 1Berkshire with the dynamic support of the volunteer Youth Leadership Program Steering Committee. Co-chaired by Karen Ruiz Leon of Berkshire Community College and Matthew Martin of Mildred Elley, this committee is composed of professionals across the region who commit their time and expertise to develop and facilitate the monthly sessions for the class and offer them advice as they look to their own futures.
Please join 1Berkshire in congratulating the newest Berkshire Youth Leadership Program alumni: