Impact Beyond Campus: AIC Partners With Hampden DA To Support Local Youth


Springfield, MA – American International College (AIC) proudly partnered with the office of Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni this spring for two sporting events designed to help keep young people constructively engaged during the summer months. By hosting Hoop Up Springfield and the inaugural Flag Football Tournament, AIC embraced its commitment to building relationships with organizations that support local youth.

The 8th annual Hoop Up Springfield – a basketball tournament and job fair for local teens – was held on April 15, 2024, at AIC’s Butova Gymnasium with support from AIC coaches and student-athletes. The job fair was organized by the College’s Saremi Center for Career Services.

The daylong event offered a fun and safe environment for a few hundred local youth, ages eleven to eighteen, to enjoy an organized basketball tournament. Older teens connected with employers to learn about and apply for summer job opportunities. They also heard a presentation from the AIC Admissions team about access to higher education and also received a tour of AIC’s athletics campus.

Job fair

DA Gulluni highlighted the event’s significance, saying, “We use basketball to get kids in the door, but while they are here, we try to line them up with a summer job and expose them to a college environment right in their backyard. Studies have shown that summer jobs help to reduce crime among youth and young adults. Assisting our young people in finding summer employment will keep them constructively engaged during the summer while providing them with a professional experience and connection that they will carry with them into adulthood.”

AIC welcomed the DA’s team back to campus on June 8 by hosting the office’s first-ever Flag Football Tournament for Hampden County youth aged ten and under. “It’s important to acquaint young people with the District Attorney’s office, with law enforcement in general in a positive way,” offered Gulluni. “We’re here as their allies, not their adversaries.”

Fist bumps

In addition to learning football skills, the participants received nutrition and wellness education. AIC’s Assistant Director of Athletics Mike Lavato emphasized to Western Mass News the importance of this wellness approach, which the College also prioritizes for its student-athletes. “We strive for our athletes, and they strive, to be in tune with nutrition. What’s going in their bodies can help them perform better on the field and in the classroom.”

These interactive programs offer AIC students the opportunity to volunteer their time and expertise, enriching their campus experience and cultivating a sense of belonging. David Jaylin Eppinger was among the members of the AIC Yellow Jackets football team to provide a helping hand at the event. He agrees with the importance of self-care in sports saying, “If you really love playing football or whatever sport you play you want to take care of yourself and your body.”

AIC’s collaboration with the DA’s office exemplifies its dedication to supporting community partnerships and strengthens its role in providing access to higher education and professional success. To see media coverage of the Hoop Up Springfield and Flag Football events, click below.


WWLP22NewsWesternMassNews, and The Republican/MassLive.



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