1. What aspect of your program/organization's work makes you most proud and why?
We are most proud of our students. Our students come from many different walks of life, but they all have three things in common: talent, motivation, and a lot of potential. Since the first Year Up class graduated in July 2002, just over 1,500 students have successfully completed the program in Boston. This includes alum Joshua Barrientos (class of January 2013), who now works as a Custody Specialist at State Street Institutional Investor Services. “Year Up transformed that way that I think about myself and my future,” said Joshua, who overcame the challenges of poverty and drugs and to pursue a college degree and profession in finance. We are also proud of our proven record to take urban young adults from poverty to a professional career in one year. An independent evaluation using the gold standard random assignment methodology (Economic Mobility Corporation’s “A Promising Start”, April 2011) showed that Year Up participants earned 30% more than non-participants.
2. Why did you choose to join the Peer Performance Exchange?
To truly close the Opportunity Divide that separates 6.7 million 18-24 year olds from great employers looking for skilled workers, our nation’s workforce development system needs to invest in “what works.” The Peer Performance Exchange provides an opportunity to surface best practices and compare successful programs using a common criteria – essential elements of “what works” system. At the same time, we know the PPE’s learning, linking, and leveraging strategy will help us strengthen our story and expand our capacity to serve Boston’s urban young adults.
3. What is one fact/piece of data/etc you think the public (or funders) need to better understand about the young people you serve/youth career development?
Millions of young adults in this country are facing social and economic injustice; they face shrinking opportunities to further their education or obtain meaningful employment within an economy that increasingly demands post-secondary credentials and higher-order skills. Despite talent and motivation, these young people have typically lacked the resources needed to reach their potential and participate in the economic mainstream. However, given the chance to build careers and pursue postsecondary education, these young adults prove that they are assets – not liabilities – and will become the future CEO’s, managers, community leaders, college graduates, and role models of our city.
Click here to learn more about the Peer Performance Exchange and the first group of Youth Career Development membe