Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Year Up Program Helping to Close the Opportunity Divide

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Year Up Program Helping to Close the Opportunity Divide

Article excerpt

Year Up, a New York-based nonprofit organization, reports that 70 percent of low-income high school graduates don't have a path toward a livable wage or postsecondaiy education. Year Up is trying to fill that void. Its one-year intensive program consists of technical training and a corporate internship thai can lead to jobs at companies stich as General Electric and Bank of America, starting at $30,000 or more a year. The program also connects with community colleges and provides college credits for its course work.

The mission of Year Up is to "close the opportunity divide," explained Kailey Cartwright, deputy chief of staff of Year tip's office in Boston, Mass. Year Up provides the "access and skills to move up in the business world or advance in college," she said. Providing minority urban young adults with die right training and guidance from supportive adults enables participants to become successful. "AU these young people need is a boost up, not a handout," said Cartwright.

Gerald Cherlavian, a Harvard Business School graduate, sold Conduit Communication, the software company that he co-founded, for mullitnillions in 1999 and launched Year Up in 2000. Cherlavian had participated in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. His fondness for his little brother David ITeredia, who lived in the projects in Lower Manhattan, inspired him to start Year Up, of which he is now CEO. He saw that Heredia was intelligent and talented but needed some structure and a better network to succeed.

Starling slowly in 2001, Year Up helped 22 students. By 2011, it involved 1,500 students annually and had offices in nine cities including Chicago, Washington, D.C. , and Seattle. In the next five years, it's looking to expand to training 2,500 students. Of its 2012 and 2013 graduating classes, 6l percent of its students were African-American; 19 percent, Hispanic; 5 percent, While; 5 percent, Asian-American; and 10 percent, oilier. The average age of a student was 21 years old, and 58 percent were male, and 42 percent were female.

Four month after graduating the program, 84 percent of its students nationally have M-tinie or part-time jobs or are pursuing full-time postsecondary education. Corporate sponsors too have been satisfied since 90 percent recommend it.

In the Boston office in 2012, 600 students applied for Year Up and l60 were accepted for the first cycle (students are accepted quarterly). Because students must enroll in community college programs to receive credit, all applicants must possess a high school diploma or GED.

Year Up is seeking students who are motivated and have some direction loward a career. Students must write an essay, submit a résumé and 13)1 out an application. Applicants are interviewed, initially by a Year Up recruiter and then participate in a group interview, where they're screened for how they interact with a group. They also take an academic test to ensure that they have basic skills since Year Up doesn't provide remedial courses,

"The ideal Year Up student is ready to push themselves outside of their comfort zone. They should have clear goals in mind that they want to enter die financial industry or work in a tech department," Cartwright said.

Once the program begins, Year Up participants are paid $570 a month for the first six months of training, and during their internship when their hours increase, payment rises to $600.

But to earn that money and stay enrolled in the program, participants sign a contract agreeing to operate within the guidelines. For example, students must be on time, dress professionally and stay off their cell phones during class. Students are given an overall score of 200 points, which amounts to $200, and then points are deducted and money withdrawn from their salaries for any infraction. If a student is late to class and lets the teacher know, he or she loses 15 points or $15. If Hie lateness is unannounced, it will mean 25 points or $25. …

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