ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A local youth leader and student of the Rochester City School District received the New York State Commendation Award.

18-year-old Isaiah Santiago, a graduate of the Rochester School of the Arts, received the award at his graduation party for finding jobs for youth, creating a mental health curriculum in the school district, and founding an organization to combat youth gun violence.

The award was presented to Santiago by Senator Jeremy Cooney.

Santiago said his class will help the community by preventing violence overall.

“The mental health literacy class is to help our young people identify, problem solve and resolve mental illness the right way,” Santiago said. “Right now, what we see in our community is young people who don’t understand what’s going on with their mental health or mental illness and they don’t know how to deal with this but simply satisfy it for a second by getting into gun violence.”

Santiago also received a proclamation from Senator Samra Brouk and a Young Citizen of the Year award from the Monroe County Legislature and Executive Offices.