On Point for College receives $5,000 from Excellus to support for mental health effort


UTICA — Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provided On Point for College-Utica with a $5,000 sponsorship to support a new mental health program for first-generation college students. The program provides two mental health workshops for college students and training for front-line advising staff.

The program aims to help students gain a better understanding of mental health and learn self-care skills that will allow them to address issues as they arise. Staff training will enhance skills in empathy, advocacy, listening, and mental health issues, allowing them to aid students in crisis.

“Social-emotional learning and mental health services have become more important for our students since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Kevin Marken, Utica director of On Point for College. “While preparing for college and leaving home are major disruptions for students in our program, fear and anxiety have been amplified for students by the trauma of the pandemic. This program will help students and staff identify mental health issues and actions that can be taken to assist.”

The mission of On Point for College is to break down barriers that prevent young, under-served individuals from achieving education and career success. On Point for College strives to transform communities by making college, training, and career success a reality for those who face great obstacles. With office in Syracuse and Utica, the organization serves youth in Onondaga, Cayuga, Oswego, Cortland, Madison, Oneida, and Herkimer counties.

“We are proud to assist On Point for College in their effort to provide vital mental health support to first-generation college students in our community,” said Eve Van de Wal, Excellus BCBS Utica regional president. “Removing barriers to education and career success helps our community thrive.”

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is committed to supporting local organizations that improve community health, the announcement said, adding that the company’s corporate giving follows all applicable laws and regulations and does not support funding organizations that conflict with its corporate mission, goals, policies or products.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Utica region encompasses Clinton, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego and St. Lawrence counties.


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