A “Year Up”: A Big Difference

First and foremost, CONGRATULATIONS to the Year Up NYC Class of 2010! As Year Up NYC celebrates its sixth graduation, A-List is more honored than ever to be partners with this non-profit organization doing more than its fair share to level the playing field. As its mission statement reads, Year Up seeks to “close the opportunity divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education,” and it appears the job they’re doing is working.

The first five months of Year Up’s intensive one-year program prepares this group to enter the professional world by equipping students with the skills, behavior, and communication ability necessary to achieve success in entry-level corporate positions without a college degree. The second half of the program places Year Up students at internships with leading corporations, many of which support Year Up as corporate partners helping to steer these motivated youth toward success.

Dominique Wright, a Year Up graduate, was recently featured in a piece by the New York Times, “Chronicling a Life and Honing Job Skills.” As a teenage mother, Ms. Wright completed Year Up after dropping out of Kingsborough Community College and working a succession of hourly wage jobs in an effort to support herself and her daughter. After working a paid internship at Merrill Lynch through the program, she’s determined to move forward and excel professionally despite the difficult economy and her struggle to find a job. Andres Gomez, a case manager at the Community Service Society, who has just assisted Dominique in landing a paid apprenticeship at Citigroup speaks of her commitment, “She’s resilient,” Mr. Gomez said. “No matter what comes her way, she breaks down every barrier.”

Through our partnership with Year Up, A-List is contributing as we know how to advance the meaningful work being done—through education. Starting in the spring of 2008, A-List began providing Year Up with a course intended to introduce young adults in the Year Up apprenticeship phase to the college application process. The course was soon expanded to include college advising workshops that begin during the learning and development phase and continuing through the apprenticeships. A-List’s college advisors have assisted Year Up students in selecting schools, completing applications, perfecting admissions essays, and securing scholarships and financial aid.

In the fall of 2008, Year Up NYC added another A-List course to its Professional Skills curriculum. In Business Math, students learn the fundamental math skills necessary for success in the professional world. The course was designed to meet the specific needs of Year Up students as they enter the workforce and focuses on the real-life applications of math concepts in personal and professional life.

A-List representatives, Edward Smallwood and Adam Horowitz proudly attended yesterday’s Year Up NYC’s graduation and this Year Up class’ motivation was put on display through the students’ personal stories. Recent Year Up graduate, Christina Calenzani, who completed an internship at BNY Mellon and plans to attend college this fall shares, “The most vital lesson I took from Year Up is the importance of believing in myself. Once you do, nothing is off limits.”

With that positive attitude and the determination Year Up students exude, we think Christina’s right. Again, much-deserved congratulations to the Year Up Class of 2010! A-List looks forward to attending many more Year Up graduations, and seeing just what a difference a Year Up can make.