Organizations: Year Up
The math proves that bridging the opportunity divide adds up to greater prosperity for all of us.
An estimated 6 million young adults are unemployed or underemployed, without access to the skills needed for fast-track careers, while 14 million jobs that require post-secondary education go unfilled.
“So much talent and ambition go to waste, and there is this desperate corporate need for entry- and mid-level workers,” says Belinda Stubblefield, executive director of Year Up, a nonprofit that bridges this “opportunity divide” by providing underserved students, ages 18 to 24, with hands-on skill development, college credits and corporate internships. “It’s a win-win. Students get what they need to go on to bigger and better things, while businesses get employees who are trained not only with specific skill sets, but also with real-world life lessons in punctuality, deadlines, commuting, dress codes, customer service and other challenges of the working world.”
Year Up started in Boston as the brainchild of a Harvard alumnus who volunteered as a mentor to low-income youth. The Atlanta chapter, which began in 2008, serves about 250 students annually, with plans to increase that class size by another 170 in the coming year. It partners with employers such as the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, SunTrust, Gas South and Cox Enterprises.
“About 85 percent of our graduates end up either in college or in jobs that pay at least $32,000 per year,” Stubblefield says. “There is a ripple effect because they support and encourage education not only for themselves but [also within] their families.”