The Year Up program’s “About” page says that they aim to, “… close the opportunity divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.” After meeting a number of students and staff at their Boston campus last Friday … I’m sold. Here’s the short story …
My connection came through an introduction by friend Chris O’Connell to Tim Dibble, who is on the Year Up board. Inviting speakers to talk to students is a part of the program. I led a presentation/discussion on the circuitous route to where I am in my life (don’t laugh at the slides showing the rotund Steve of yesteryear), and then more details about the birth, evolution and future of the Web. The quality of the interactions with virtually all of the 20+ students in the room was impressive – curious, thoughtful, intelligent questions and comments. Before the talk, I did a mock job interview with Katina Morgan, and then she introduced me before my talk. She did a great job on both tasks.
The model is interesting, and successful enough that they have expanded from Boston to 8 other cities. The participating 18-24-year olds learn in the classroom, in groups and during internships. Year-Up stresses values, including respect, honesty and accountability. They focus on skills needed by local business, such as computer technology and finance. They pay the students to learn – and like any job, if you don’t show up and perform, you’re fired. The local industry supports the program, because they are finding skilled, responsible, young adults to fill vacancies. They say that 84% of graduates are employed or attending college full-time within four months of completing the program.
Best wishes for continued success. I plan to keep an eye on them.