Year Up “embodies strong forms of what we know makes sense and seems to work,” said David Fein, principal investigator for Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education, a multiyear evaluation of training and education programs. “The impact is real for those who are chosen.”
When Will L. Davis of Snellville, Ga., learned of Year Up, he had a retail job paying just above the minimum wage. He was looking for more. “This is my chance,” he recalled saying to himself.
After the Year Up coursework, he landed an internship at the local office of New York Life, where he was hired full time in late 2017. Today, Mr. Davis, 27, is a cybersecurity specialist working on an incident response team at the company. He earns above $40,000, more than twice his salary in retail.
Partnerships with community colleges, begun as an experiment in 2012, have become the driver of growth for Year Up. About 3,000 of its 4,700 students are in programs conducted with community colleges. Year Up and the colleges share space, people, training courses and best practices. By combining resources, the program can reduce its cost of $28,000 a student by 30 percent, Mr. Chertavian said.
The model at Year Up and the other nonprofit work-force ventures hinges on close ties with employers. Their programs involve work-based learning at companies to link training with employer needs, and thus hiring. They typically teach both technical and “soft skills” like teamwork, confidence while speaking in public and household budgeting — a comprehensive formula that requires more time and money.
It also requires a change in corporate hiring. Four-year college degrees remain a requirement at many companies. In the last few years, some have dropped that hurdle for certain occupations, responding to a tight job market, calls for diversity and the success of programs like Year Up.