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

Year Up takes three strategic approaches to closing the Opportunity Divide: Serving Students and Alumni Directly; Empowering Others to Serve; and Changing Employment Systems.

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 technical training and professional skills development, followed by a six-month internship or work experience at 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. A federally-sponsored study showed that six years post-program, Year Up participants earned 30 percent more than their peers — the largest impact on earnings reported to date for a workforce program tested in a randomized controlled trial, the gold standard of evaluations.

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

In order to expand its impact, Year Up is leveraging its expertise in professional skills training and connections to employers to create community workforce ecosystems in partnership with other training providers. With the aim of serving ten times as many young people annually, Year Up’s newest initiatives focus on enabling education and training providers to prepare and connect more career-ready young adults to meaningful careers while also making it easier and more efficient for employers to access and hire these talented, motivated, and diverse individuals.

Changing Employment Systems: Realizing the Promise of Opportunity for All

In addition to driving impact through direct service and strategic partnerships with other education and training providers, Year Up is committed to addressing the root causes of the Opportunity Divide in this country. Through 20+ years of partnership with America’s top employers, it’s become evident that traditional corporate talent practices often exclude diverse candidates from accessing economic opportunity and mobility. To complement the work of preparing young adults for success in the workplace, Year Up launched Grads of Life in 2014 to help Corporate America be successful in hiring, retaining and advancing opportunity youth and other traditionally overlooked talent. Grads of Life researches and publishes insights on best practices for employers, creates tools to support the adoption of these practices, and partners with corporations to help them become leaders in creating economic opportunity and mobility for all. That same year, Year Up also launched YUPRO Placement, which has since become an industry-leading skills-first placement firm that provides employer partners with access to a diverse talent community at various career stages who have the technical, professional, digital, and interpersonal skills required for in-demand jobs.

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