Year Up: Winner's Statement
Year Up was founded on the belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to realize his or her potential. An individual's ability to succeed is unlimited, yet for many of our nation's urban young adults, this potential is never realized. This is not due to a lack of commitment, intelligence or ability. Rather, many urban young adults lack access to the education, experiences, and guidance required to realize his or her true potential.
Founded in 2000, Year Up's one-year training program transforms the lives and economic prospects of low-income young adults between the ages of 18 and 24. Year Up's mission is to provide underserved urban young adults with an opportunity to achieve economic self-sufficiency through technology-oriented careers and continuing education. It achieves this mission through an innovative program that combines technical and professional skill training, internship experience, college credit and a high degree of support. Students receive an educational stipend throughout the program. Prominent local companies pay near market rates for interns, providing a funding stream that covers more than 40% of operating expenses.
Year Up now serves over 200 students a year in three sites in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island. Year Up has excellent results in graduation (85%), job placement (87%), graduate income ($14/hour average) and college placement (43%).
Year Up's program model combines four elements. It places a particular emphasis on support and guidance, as Year Up believes a supportive environment builds confidence and encourages better learning. Educational stipends, staff advisors and mentors are an essential part of this support. A signed student work agreement guides professional behavior. Classroom-based education focuses on technical and professional skills. Students then gain valuable experience at corporate internships.
The first six months at Year Up include intensive technical, professional, and communications training. The second six months include a paid internship with one of more than 35 corporate partners. This gives students the opportunity to apply their skills, gain demonstrable experience and broaden their industry contacts and references. While at Year Up, students are also dual enrolled at Cambridge College and receive up to 18 college credits.
Year Up provides its students with numerous resources to support their transitions to careers and higher education. All staff members act as student advisors, meeting with students weekly to advise them on professional and personal issues. Class instructors also provide significant personalized support to the students. Each student is assigned a mentor from the business community to further support their professional development. Weekly guest presenters provide career and life perspective and often act as part of the students' professional network. Tutors and job coaches offer additional support. Year Up's Alumni Association leads support activities relative to job placement, career development, higher education, graduate tracking and alumni network development.
The above information was provided by the profiled organization.