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Annual Recognition Breakfast 2009 Award Recipients


Mary Nelson
Mary Nelson started organizing the Back-to-School Barbeque five years ago, shortly after she lost her nephew to gun violence. She woke up one morning and decided that she wanted to do something about the violence affecting our children, and she was determined to do what she could to stop the violence in the inner city of Syracuse. She believes that the best way to do this is to show the youth of the city that people care about what they are going through and to show them the importance of a good education. Mary noticed that many children did not have adequate supplies for schools. Out of her own funds, she hosted a free barbeque where students and their parents could come and pick up, free of charge, school supplies, back packs, clothing, used computers, and more.

In August, 2002, 850 youths and their parents attended that first event. Each year the event has grown in record numbers. In 2007, over 6,000 youths and parents attended the Annual Youth Day BBQ. In 2008, that number had swelled to over 9,000. Mary's Youth Day Foundation is now a NYS not-for-profit organization that seeks to combat juvenile violence by first and foremost encouraging children to attend school. In May, 2008, Mary was featured on ABC's Live with Regis and Kelly as part of the Mom's Dream Come True program.

Mary says, "Our youths look to us as role models, and I feel that this support should start at home. You may think they are not paying attention, but they do model our behavior. Therefore, my goal is to help the youth understand the importance of a good education."

Back-to-School Barbeque Video


AXA Advisors
AXA Advisors has been a corporate sponsor of the Syracuse City School District for many years. This partnership has taken on many different forms, supporting the children, teachers and administrators in various capacities.

Student Achievement - AXA is one of the largest corporate sponsors of college scholarships for high school seniors nationwide. Locally, over $100,000 has been awarded to students, including students in the Syracuse City district. Additionally, AXA representatives have signed on to become involved in the district's Mentoring Program, providing one-on-one support for middle school children.

Academic Support - AXA has provided generous support to the Educational Foundation over the past three years. In addition to event sponsorships, AXA has been fortunate enough to have a member of the organization placed on the Foundation's Board of Directors. AXA's main involvement with the Foundation is in organizing the Recognition Breakfast and Golf Tournament, raising much needed funds that go directly to support teachers in their classrooms.

Administrative Support - AXA serves as host to the monthly Leadership Institute meetings, providing a quiet, detached environment conducive for the Institute's mission of fostering continued professional development to the district's principals and administrators.

AXA Advisors is extremely grateful for the opportunity to support the Syracuse City School District and will continue to seek out ways to enhance the partnership in the future.
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