Gerald Chertavian is the Founder and CEO of Year Up, one of the nation’s most impactful workforce development organizations. Year Up’s mission is to close the Opportunity Divide by ensuring that all young adults gain the skills, experiences, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through careers and higher education.

Year Up’s strategy to close the Opportunity Divide is threefold: Serving Students and Alumni Directly; Empowering Others to Serve; and Changing Systems to Close the Opportunity Divide.

Serving Students and Alumni Directly: Moving Thousands of Young Adults from Minimum Wage to Meaningful Careers

Year Up’s direct service model supports young adults through an intensive, yearlong program composed of technical training and professional skills development, followed by an internship with one of the nation’s top employers. Young adults develop valuable, in-demand skills like project management or software development, and corporate partners gain access to a strong pipeline of talent ready to launch their careers. Year Up has conducted a series of gold-standard randomized controlled trials (RCTS) to study objectively the impact of its yearlong program. These RCTs have determined that the earnings gains of Year Up’s alumni are the largest to date for any workforce program that has been rigorously evaluated.

Empowering Others to Serve: Building a Stronger, More Inclusive Talent Marketplace

In order to expand our impact, Year Up is leveraging 20 years of intellectual property to develop new offerings that can reach exponentially more young adults. To carry out this strategy, Year Up launched Grads of Life, an initiative focused on empowering others to serve by developing scalable products and services that enable employers, workforce development providers, and community colleges to more effectively impact Opportunity Youth. Through Grads of Life, Year Up has introduced several new products, including: Opportunity Manager Training, an online training for frontline managers to better support young adults as employees; Career Labs, a 40-hour modular professional skills training program based on Year Up’s training; Design Labs, a strategic consulting engagement to help employers source and retain diverse frontline talent; and the Opportunity Navigator, a 10-minute anonymous assessment to help employers assess the inclusivity of their current talent practices.

Year Up’s newest initiatives will focus on delivering an outreach-to-outcomes approach that is primarily delivered through others with the aim of serving more than 100,000 people who are disconnected from economic opportunity by 2025.

Changing Systems to Close the Opportunity Divide: Realizing the Promise of Opportunity for All

Year Up’s direct service program delivers strong outcomes to thousands of young adults each year, although there are millions of young adults across this country who are out of work, out of school, and in need of opportunity. We believe every young adult deserves opportunity and economic justice. In service to that belief, we seek to address the root causes of the Opportunity Divide in this country with the goal of ensuring that every young adult has access to the skills, experience, and support to reach their full potential. Year Up has identified three key goals for systems change: shift perceptions of Opportunity Youth from social liabilities to economic assets; improve the practices of employers so that they become inclusive opportunity creators; and inform public policies to support stronger career pathways for Opportunity Youth.

Learn more at and