News & Events


The Pizza Club: Saratoga Sponsor A Scholar Starts Its 10th Year

Originally posted on The Daily Planet Arthur, October 20, 2017

SSAS Welcomes New Class and Provide then wuth the Tools (inlcuding Pizza!) to Succeed




SARATOGA SPRINGS - With the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, those students who would excel are those who adopt a routine that facilitates learning. For the 32 kids in Saratoga Sponsor A Scholar Program at Saratoga Springs High School (SSHS), that entails a commitment to attend homework sessions every Monday after classes. Not only does this provide the structure to organize their upcoming week, they have the opportunity to meet with tutors, receive announcements of upcoming college trips and other special events.


The results of this program are self-evident. Now in its tenth year, ALL 64 graduates of the Saratoga Sponsor A Scholar program have been accepted into college. This is a program that depends entirely on donations from the community. 100 percent of donations spent on students, while the Saratoga Sponsor A Scholar Board covers all overhead costs.










All 64 of the program's graduates have been accepted into colleges.


Saratoga Sponsor-A-Scholar's Executive Director Jim LaVigne noted, "The kids look forward to the guidance these sessions give them, the access to tutors and the pizza dinner SSAS provides."


"Our weekly mandatory homework sessions are integral to the success of the SSAS program. During this time, we touch base with the students as to how they are doing in their classes, keep them informed of upcoming events such as college tours, community service activities, etc. and offer them free tutoring in the four core subjects. This is a time when students may also approach us if they have any issues or need assistance with school supplies, college applications, etc. Having this weekly contact with our students ensures that we know what is going on in their lives inside and outside of school and keeps them accountable."

- School Counselor Brandy Crary, Saratoga Springs High School


Click here for the oringial article from The Daily Planet Arthur.


Yothan Sage designated "Coull Foundation Scholar" for Saratoga Sponsor-A-Scholar

SSHS Receives $18,000 Grant to Further Program's Goals

L to R - On behalf of Saratoga Sponsor a Scholar, Yothan Sage receives a check for $18,000 from The Coull Foundation, which is presented by Gretchen Squires, Owner of Posie Peddler in Saratoga Springs and a Member of the Foundation's Board. Saratoga Sponsor-A-Scholar's Executive Director Jim LaVigne nominated Yothan to be SSAS' designated Coull Foundation Scholar.

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Yothan Sage, a Saratoga Springs High School sophomore, has been designated as Saratoga Sponsor-A-Scholar's (SSAS) Coull Foundation's Scholar. Sage is a member of SSAS' incoming class - their tenth - who will receive mentoring and financial assistance for up to seven years as they proceed through High School and College.

In nominating Sag, SSAS Executive Director Jim LaVigne noted that he is a three-sport athlete at SSHS that has maintained an outstanding 91 average in his studies. Yothan is one of four children in his family; his two older sisters are previous graduates of Saratoga Sponsor-A-Scholar classes. His sister Kara is in her third year at Skidmore College and is an honor student; His sister Hannah has completed her first year at RPI with a Straight 'A' average.

Founded in 2004, The Coull Foundation is dedicated to the memory of Betty and Tom Coull of Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Their mission is to support Education, Cancer Research and the Arts. Gretchen Squires, Owner of the Posie Peddler in Saratoga Springs, is Betty's niece and a member of the Coull Foundation's Board of Directors.

According to LaVigne, "Gretchen reached out to SSAS after reading an article last year about my wife, Mary Gavin, and Kristie Roohan taking the SSAS senior class to an etiquette dinner at Sperry's Restaurant." He said. "She liked the fact that SSAS teaches overall life skills in addition to stressing excellence in academics." She then introduced SSAS to the Coull Foundation board and was successful in obtaining the $18,000 grant.

To date, The Coull Foundation has primarily concentrated its grant support toward Southern California-based Not-For-Profits and Charities. Saratoga Sponsor-A-Scholar became its first Upstate New York recipient, based on Gretchen Squires' interest and involvement.

As an incoming Scholar, Yothan Sage will be identifying his major subjects (he currently favors Mathematics) and community service projects that are part of the program. He also will be a member of the SSHS Junior Varsity Football squad, playing both wide receiver and cornerback, this fall. His favorite sport is wrestling; currently he is in the 138-lb. division.

Saratoga Sponsor-A-Scholar is a 501(c) 3 Organization that was established to help financially disadvantaged young men and women in the Saratoga Springs School District successfully complete high school and college. 100 percent of its resources are dedicated to these young adults in Saratoga Springs, who have all the skills required to succeed in college, but not the opportunities. SSAS levels that economic playing field so it's Scholars can broaden their horizons. For more information, visit


Hail To The Scholars!

Originally posted on The Daily Planet Arthur, June 9, 2017




SARATOGA SPRINGS - Saratoga Sponsor A Scholar inducted its 10th class of Sophomores and sent its 7th class of Seniors off to college this past Sunday, June 4, at its annual family picnic.


Over 160 students, family members, mentors and supporters gathered for the celebration. Each of the 10 Seniors was given a new laptop courtesy of SSAS Board member John Snow and his wife Terri.



All 64 of the program's graduates have been accepted into colleges.



These future leaders have given everyone a lot to be proud of. Bravo!


Click here for the oringial article from The Daily Planet Arthur.


Photos: Maria Jehle






A big THANK YOU to the sold out crowd who attended our Derby Day fundraiser at The Lodge. We hope you had a good time, and will join us again next year!

The event raised $130,000 and was our most successful fundraiser EVER! We couldn't have done it without the generosity of some very special donors. Gary and Nancy Dicresce and Saratoga Eagle underwrote the food and beverages for the day, and Saratoga Casino and Raceway underwrote the valet parking costs, which allows us to use every dollar raised for our programs.

For a full list of Sponsors and Donors, click on Derby Party on the sidebar of the SSAS home page.



Leveling the Field - Broadening Horizons

Saratoga Sponsor-A-Scholar

By Arthur Gonick

SARATOGA SPRINGS - "We plant trees. Trees of education. They grow broader and stronger with each generation."

Saratoga-Sponsor-A-Scholar (SSAS) Executive Director Jim LaVigne is at once describing his organization's mission, and his own family experience. "My father was the first in my family to go to college."

Jim's father had a path to college that was relevant to the era. It is worth recounting as it applied to many of that "Greatest Generation," now receding with the passage of time. "My father grew up three miles from the Canadian border. At age 17, the Pearl Harbor invasion occurred. Like many of that age, my father enlisted, and served throughout the Normandy invasion and the European Campaign," he said.

Upon returning home, Jim's father embraced the then-new GI Bill, which removed the economic barriers to college for returning soldiers, among other benefits. The results of this Bill on American Society at the time cannot be underestimated.

By leveling the economic playing field, it allowed countless citizens to broaden their horizons

And once planted - the seeds of education are more likely to propagate among the generations that follow. Bringing it back home, Jim recounts relevant stats - numbers that come from the heart - not some chart:

"My father was first," Jim says. "This led to four in my generation. All went to college. The next generation it was up to 20 of his grandchildren." The current generation, a 'work in progress,' already has 15 in higher education, and more to come. A broader, stronger tree.

In today's world, society has moved away from many of these great social subsidies, perhaps for all time. It is up to modern not-for-profit 501(c) 3 corporations, and the community at large to fill in the gaps. And this is where SSAS, and its many supporters (take a glance at one of their "Thank you" ads if you doubt my word 'many') answer the call.

Ten years ago, Lew and Pat Titterton - current SSAS board members - approached Jim LaVigne with the idea. They had programs in existence in big markets like Philadelphia in existence to use as models, but they had to craft something that would work in this unique market.

SSAS' many programs are an expensive undertaking - involving, according "...ten freshmen from the Saratoga Springs City School District each year... providing them with mentors, academic tutoring, PSAT and SAT training and other help with college preparation during their last three years of high school and yearly cash stipends in college."

Saratoga Springs High School Academic Advisors Brandy Crary and Matt Nelson know the numbers and the value. "It takes about $100,000 to run this program each year," Matt said. But once invested, the results are life changing. "This is all about exposing a new world - first generations of college students, every year," Brandy noted. Indeed, the sixth class graduated from the high school portion of the SSAS program in 2016, and all 54 graduates have been accepted into colleges!

A current group of Scholars were guests of honor at a Holiday party at the high school on Monday, December 19. Later, we were lucky to meet three of these future leaders, and learned, among other things, how social service is an important cornerstone of SSAS.

Ms. Riley Sterling, a sophomore, would like to go to Skidmore College and study Special Education with an emphasis on language. "Spanish, and also sign language!" She said, brightly. "I was first exposed (to signing) in third grade with a classmate." A JV volleyball player, Riley has participated in a recent toy drive for underprivileged children at Bravo Restaurant, and through SSAS, participated in a "Dare to Climb" conference. "It built up my personal confidence, particularly with public speaking," she said.

Senior Adrianna Marcolin is awaiting an acceptance decision from Clarkson University, where she hopes to become a Civil Engineer. She and junior Demetri Swann (who hopes to decide between Sacred Heart and Syracuse University next year to study physical therapy) have worked together as volunteers on a few recent community service projects as part of SSAS. They include The Great Pumpkin Challenge to benefit Saratoga Bridges (where they did a variety of tasks from holding signs to dispensing water bottles and cheering on the runners), and Giving Circle's home accessibility project. "It was like an episode of 'Extreme Makeover!' Adrianna opined.

Demetri, a two-way Varsity football squad member (C-DL, #79 in your program) was recommended to SSAS by his science teacher and Matt Nelson, who was also Demetri's freshman coach. He noted poignantly about the experience participating in the Giving Circle project:

"The way we impacted one family's life was so inspiring and motivating," he said.

Everyone loves a feel-good story at Holiday time.

Thanks to Saratoga-Sponsor-A-Scholar, you just read several. With many more still to be written.

Arthur Gonick's parents, each the first in their family to go to college, were beneficiaries of free tuition at City College of New York, where they met and were later married. Their three children are all college graduates. As far as grandchildren, one has graduated, one is enrolled and one is researching targets to visit next year.


Saratoga-Sponsor-A-Scholar has both donation and mentoring opportunities. You or your organization may donate at any level. Also, donations outside of sponsorships may be applied to administrative and program expenses. For instance, a $100 gift can provide a graphing calculator. A $1,000 gift can help support a tutoring program.

No gift is too small - All gifts make a difference locally.



PO Box 107, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 518-587-9155 or 518-581-0979