Year Up

Enabling young adults to move from minimum wage to meaningful careers in just one year.

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$153.9M

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78%

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<1%

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Advocacy

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Awareness

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Direct Service

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Private Sector Collaboration

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Policy Legislation

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Research

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Financials

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Management

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About Year Up

Year Up was founded in 2000 by Gerald Chertavian, a former technology entrepreneur and Wall Street banker. Shortly after starting his first job in New York, he volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters, a mentor program which matches adult volunteers with children ages 6 through 18. Gerald spent every Saturday with his “little” named David. He saw the ambition and potential in David, and when he expressed an interest in pursuing a degree in animation, Gerald offered to pay for his education so long as he maintained good grades. As Gerald stated, it wasn’t a handout, it was a hand up.

David went on to successfully earn a degree and work in his desired field of animation. For Gerald, the experience was an eye-opener. He saw that people who were ambitious, driven, and talented were often overlooked simply because of where they lived or their economic status. He wanted David’s success to be the rule, not the exception, and with this in mind, he launchedYear Up.

Year Up is an intensive year-long training program for young adults (ages 18-24) who have completed high school but have not obtained a four-year degree. For six months, students partake in daily lessons that teach them technical and professional skills. After that, they are placed in an internship with one of Year Up’s corporate partners. They earn a weekly stipend throughout the entire program, earn community college credits, and gain real-life experience at some of America’s biggest companies.

The effectiveness of their program can be seen in their numbers: In 2015, 89% of Year Up graduates went on to attend college or work full time within four months of graduation. The average starting salary for graduates was $36,000 a year, well above the national minimum wage. Their success has garnered plenty of attention, and has received acclamation from the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The New York Times, and PBS.


Why We Chose to Feature This Organization

True systemic change can’t happen without the private sector on board. Year Up has been massively successful in working with some of the United States’ largest and most powerful corporations to change their hiring practices and give traditionally overlooked youth an opportunity for success.

Once they graduate from high school, many low-income young adults lack the resources to attend post-secondary educational institutions, and they lack the knowledge and necessary requirements for obtaining a job that offers an opportunity for advancement and a salary higher than minimum wage.

Year Up’s program is doing something that the government should be doing: providing ambitious young adults with a route to success that doesn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars. Year Up also picks up the slack for corporations by providing practical training and knowledge to entry level job seekers. In providing these lower-income students a chance for practical education and a guaranteed chance to put this education to use at a major corporation, they are helping to improve our society, our economy, and the lives of thousands of young adults.

Private Sector Collaboration

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Financials

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Management

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Year Up’s existence is built on collaboration with the private sector. Young adults who have graduated high school but have not obtained a bachelor’s degree are eligible for their program which involves six months of intensive training and is followed by six months of an internship with one of Year Up’s 250+ corporate partners. The program is currently available in 16 cities across the U.S. and over 16,000 students have participated since its inception in 2000. Below is a description of the program in greater detail.

Closing the “Opportunity Divide” – Year Up’s Training Program & Corporate Internships

Over 5 million Americans ages 18-24 are neither participating in the workforce nor attending post-secondary education institutions. Meanwhile, corporations are struggling to find the right people to hire for “middle skill” jobs, meaning they require more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree. It is estimated that by 2020, these corporations will have a total of 12 million roles needing to be filled. This is where Year Up steps in.

Year Up believes that young urban adults are struggling because of lack of opportunity, not a lack of ambition or intelligence. Their students come from low-income families, who oftentimes grew up in neighborhoods that had higher levels of violence than national standards, poorer quality schools, and a lack of role models to show them how to navigate the transition into adulthood. As costs for higher education continue to skyrocket, students from lower-income families are forced with making the difficult decision between being riddled with debt or not attending university at all.

In order to help these ambitious young adults get the opportunity that they deserve, Year Up provides a six month intensive training program that combines a mixture of hard skills, soft skills, and specific technical training in the fields of IT, financial operations, sales & customer support, business operations, and software development. These courses are eligible for college credit, and students receive a weekly stipend throughout both the training portion of the program and the internship portion.

The second half of the program is the corporate internship. Corporate partners come from a wide array of industries, including banks and asset managers, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers, food and retail companies, technology companies, and energy providers. Participating firms pay Year Up $27,700 per intern in order to cover the costs of the student’s stipend, college credits, and to cover Year Up’s administrative costs. Companies benefit from Year Up’s program by receiving ambitious, dedicated, and well-trained young adults who are ready to work.

Bringing in ready-to work interns from Year Up enables participating companies to sidestep traditional recruitment firms, resulting in lower HR related costs and commission fees. The internships are often successfully converted into full-time and permanent work. In 2012, 35% of interns were hired by their host company. This number raises every year, and by 2016, it reached 42%.  

Year Up is truly a win-win situation for both companies and students. Companies receive motivated and ready-to work staff. Satisfaction with the program is high, with over 90% of corporate partners saying they would recommend the program to a colleague or friend. This satisfaction can be seen by their investment in the program and its interns. In 2016, over 180 corporate partners hosted 3 or more interns, with 50 of those partners hosting 10 or more.

Participating students gain an increase in salary and a clearer career path with room for growth. In 2016, 90% of their 3,000 graduates were either employed or enrolled in postsecondary education within four months of completing the program. The average starting age for graduates was approximately $38,000 a year or $19/hour. We compared this to the 2016 average minimum wage of states that Year Up participates in and found that Year Up graduates receive $10,000 per year or nearly $5 an hour more than the average minimum wage ($13.44 vs $19).

100,000 Opportunities Initiative – Starbucks, Alaska Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, + More

In 2015, Year Up partnered with Starbucks to help launch their 100,000 Opportunity Initiative. The initiative is led by a mixture of private, public, and philanthropic organizations all working to close the opportunity divide. Starbucks leads a coalition of more than 50 companies who are dedicated to training and hiring opportunity youth. Year Up provided consulting and technical assistance to companies who join the coalition.

There are three main components within the initiative. The first is the corporate coalition. When a company joins the coalition, they commit to changing their hiring practices, increasing retention rates, and finding new ways to provide opportunities for advancement within the company in order to find new talent from these traditionally overlooked young adults.

The second component is demonstration cities. Currently, there are seven demonstration cities: Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. These demonstration cities connect both national coalition employers and local employers to opportunity youth interested in entry-level positions that provide training while they work toward obtaining educational credentials.

The final component is catalytic events. These are city-focused events such as hiring fairs that bring together employers and job seeking opportunity youth. The goal of these events is to help opportunity youth job candidates in a holistic manner by helping them become aware of available jobs, be shown how to pursue and secure those jobs, and to get help with the application process. Trainings and topics featured at hiring fairs include mock interviews, how to dress appropriately for the job you have, food handler permit obtainment, and resources and information about commuting.

Management

Year Up

Gerald Chertavian

Chief Executive Officer

Experience and Education
  • Group Managing Director at Conduit Communications Ltd
  • Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School
  • Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Bowdoin College
Compensation
$350,000

Year Up

Ellen McClain

Chief Financial Officer

Experience and Education
  • President and Chief Operating Officer at the New York Racing Association
  • Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School
  • Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Brown University
Compensation
$225,000

Year Up

Shawn Bohen

National Director of Strategic Growth and Impact

Experience and Education
  • Executive Director at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University
  • Master of Business Administration in International Finance from Babson College
  • Bachelor of Arts in English and Theater Arts from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Compensation
$223,000

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