Year Up Greater Boston
The Opportunity Divide
“I was lost before Year Up,” says Jodeliz Cora. “It wasn’t too long ago—just a few years—that I was working at H&M, in and out of college, and picking up side jobs, such as selling candy at the mall during the holiday season. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I needed more attention in classes than I received at a big college. I was working all the time, never with a set schedule.”
Jodeliz found herself on the wrong side of the Opportunity Gap. This gap separates approximately 6 million young adults in the U.S. from education and employment. Whatever their individual backgrounds, all of these young adults have tremendous potential. Unfortunately they are chronically underserved in the education arena and ignored in the employment field.
Year Up: Bridging the Opportunity Divide
Gerald Chertavian founded Year Up in 2000 to bridge this divide. Gerald learned from his experiences with his own “Little Brother” David that many young people need support, training, and guidance to reach their full potential. Year Up meets those needs with a comprehensive workforce development program. The Year Up model is based on high support and high expectations across two sixth month phases.
During the Learning and Development phase, students join a tight-knit learning community focused on an employment track for a market-driven technical skills curriculum. In Greater Boston, students are assigned to one of five tracks: Financial Operations, Information and Technology, Sales & Customer Support, and Software Development. Just as important, these students learn vital soft skills, like networking or presentation skills. These classes are rigorous, so much so that students earn college credit for taking them. To help meet the challenges of the curriculum, students receive constant support and feedback from mentors, tutors, and each other. They also receive stipends, so they can focus on learning rather than personal finances.
After six months, students enter the Internship phase of the program. Every student who successfully completes the Learning and Development phase of the program earns an internship with a company in their employment track. Year Up has built partnerships with more than 50 leading companies including State Street, Google, and Boston Children’s Hospital.
For people like Jodeliz, Year Up is an absolutely life-changing experience. For the Greater Boston site, approximately 89% of graduates are working or enrolled in college four months after the program ends. About 42% are immediately hired by their internship company. The average starting salary for a graduate is $17.00 an hour, significantly higher than the average before entering the program. Year Up graduates experience major personal growth as well. As Jodeliz explains, “At Year Up, I grew as a person:  I started understanding money, responsibility, and the value I brought to a team.”
Call to Action for Rotaractors and Rotarians
At our March 16th meeting, Year Up Greater Boston Development Specialist Alyssa Kaitz spoke to our club about the program and asked for our support. She gave us three ways that Rotaractors and Rotarians can help Year Up Greater Boston right now.
1. Mentoring
The most urgent need is for mentors. Mentorship is a major commitment, but it makes a huge difference in the student’s life. Mentors must be over 25 and have a professional network in Boston. All mentors must commit to the program for one year starting in May 2017. The time commitment for being a mentor is around 2-8 hours per month and can be scheduled flexibly. There is an orientation for all mentors, so anyone interested will be prepared for the role. For more information and to apply visit: Please direct all questions to
2. Tutoring
Tutoring is a less intensive commitment, but still very important. Tutors help students with professional writing, reading comprehension, and public speaking. Tutors commit to one hour a week at the Downtown Boston office. Again, there is an orientation to prepare all new tutors. Please apply at this link by March 24th Please direct all questions to
3. Leadership Breakfast
We have been invited to the Year Up Greater Boston’s Leadership Breakfast. This is an opportunity to meet people connected to Year Up and to learn more about opportunities to support the program (including one-time opportunities). The breakfast starts at 7:15AM on March 31 at 50 Park Plaza. Please RSVP by March 24th.