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Year Up

A note on this page's publication date

The last time we examined the charities working primarily in the U.S. was in 2010. As of 2011, we have de-prioritized further work on this cause.

The content we created in 2007 appears below. This content is likely to be no longer fully accurate, both with respect to what it says about the organization and with respect to what it implies about our own views and positions.

Published: 2007

We reviewed Year Up in 2007 as part of our process to award a grant to a job training charity. The following are our conclusions after reviewing Year Up's application materials.

In a nutshell

What they do: Year Up finds low-income but motivated people (using a selection process that accepts fewer than 1 in 3), and puts them through a 12-month program aiming to place them in relatively well-paying corporate jobs (around $20/hr in NYC, with a possible path to more).
Does it work? We do not have clear data on how often graduates keep their jobs, and we don't have a very clear sense of what options these graduates would have without Year Up's help, but we would bet that they are getting access to careers that they wouldn't have otherwise.
What do you get for your dollar? We estimate that Year Up spends about $20,000 per person served and $40,000 per person sustainably placed.
Where they rank: Year Up is a standout in this cause for two reasons: (a) its clients obtain relatively high-paying jobs; (b) we have an easy time seeing both how its model adds value and how it can expand to serve more people. We recommend Year Up as the top organization for helping people to obtain relatively high-skill jobs.

The Details

Whom do they serve?

Year Up's clients are young and low-income, but well-educated compared to our other applicants' (they must have an HS/GED degree) and put through a very selective process (choosing fewer than 1 in 3). Details follow.

Selection: Year Up "recruits applicants from urban public high schools and community-based programs using both word-of-mouth and targeted advertising" (Attachment A-2 Pg 2). They serve ages 18-24 (Attachment A-2 Pg 1). The requirements are a high school diploma or GED (Attachment A-2 Pg 2) and income at or below 150% of the federal poverty line (Attachment A-2 Pg 2). Applicants then go through a screening process that includes an application, interviews, and tests of academic ability (Attachment A-2 Pg 2). Eventually, Year Up aims to accept one out of every three applicants into the program (Attachment A-2 Pg 2), and in reality has accepted even fewer. In its last two classes, across all four locations, the average interested-to-accepted ratio was close to 4.5:1 (Attachment B-1 Pg 5), and between 2001 and 2005 in Boston, Year Up accepted students at an average ratio of 3.8 to 1 (Attachment A-4 Pg 6).
Characteristics. Data on actual characteristics of enrollees is thin. We know that in Year Up's current New York class 10% are homeless and 13% have been involved with the court system (see Year Up's Charity Response on the right side of this page). Other data we have is based on requirements (described above): all enrollees are 18-24, must have an HS/GED degree and must have income at or below 150% of the federal poverty line (Attachment A-2 Pg 1-2).

Year Up also specified that 95% of enrollees at its New York location are either African-American or Latino (Attachment A-4 Pg 1).

What do they do?

Year Up offers a full-year program consisting of a 6-month training course followed by a 6-month internship with one of its corporate partners. It also helps its students meet other needs by helping them find housing, healthcare, and childcare; access public benefits; and set up a bank account (see Charity Response on the right side of this page). Enrollees are trained for computer support and, in some cases, investment operations (i.e., booking and reconciling trades). Details follow.

Training course: in addition to "basic workplace skills" (Attachment A-2 Pg 1) and the history of the investment industry (Attachment A-2 Pg 1), Year Up trains students to serve technology or investment functions at a variety of companies – largely hospitals and financial institutions. All students complete training in Microsoft Office and computer networks (Attachment A-4 Pg 4). Students eventually execute a variety of technical tasks, including setting up new employees with workstations and telephones, answering calls to the support desk, activating and syncing blackberries, and other similar tasks. Those students with an "interest and aptitude" receive training in investment operations and eventually work booking and allocating trades, calculating P&L for traders, and identifying trade discrepancies (Attachment A-4 Pg 4). As a minor side note, we wonder what is gained by teaching students about the history of the investment industry.

While students are in the 6-month training course, they earn a stipend to support themselves (Attachment A-2 Pg 1).

Internship. Year Up partners with a series of local hospitals and financial institutions who agree to give clients 6-month IT internships (as a form of extended job interview), pay Year Up the market rate for the apprentices' labor, and then potentially employ them full time at the end of the 6-month period (Attachment A-2 Pg 1). We don't know how many Year Up graduates end up at the same employer who gave them an internship; in an extremely limited sample from Year Up's first class in New York City, 8 out of 17 graduates are employed with the organization for which they interned (see Year Up's Charity Response on the right side of this page).

What are the results?

Year Up serves people across many sites nationwide, for a cost of roughly $20,000 per enrollee (though we don't have much confidence in this number due to the lack of budget breakdowns). Somewhere in the neighborhood of half its clients end up sustainably employed, in what are likely much better jobs than those of our other applicants – i.e., jobs paying around $20/hr on average in New York, with a possible path to more earnings. Details follow.

Placements

Year Up places 60% of its enrollees (very roughly) in full-time jobs, but we have very little sense of whether or how long they retain these jobs. Details follow.

The following data is taken from multiple documents in Year Up's application. Note that the non-Boston data comes from a slideshow presentation (Attachment B-1) that does not specify how many enrollees were served at each site; it also does not specify whether "employment" is full-time employment, but we've used its numbers here anyway, because recent years don't seem to have large numbers of part-time placements (Attachment A-4 Pg 7). Enrollee data for many classes comes from Year Up's Charity Response on the right of this page.

Site Class start date Number enrolled Graduates Placed in full-time employment within 4 mo Graduates to enrollees Full-time placements to graduates Source
Boston Jul-01 22 20 8 91% 40% A-4 Pg 6
Boston Jul-02 30 26 4 87% 15% A-4 Pg 6
Boston Feb-03 45 37 29 82% 78% A-4 Pg 6
Boston Jul-03 48 40 33 83% 83% A-4 Pg 6
Boston Feb-04 55 44 40 80% 91% A-4 Pg 6
Boston Jul-04 60 47 46 78% 98% A-4 Pg 6
Boston Feb-05 74 50 41 68% 82% A-4 Pg 6
Boston Jul-05 80 63 40 79% 63% A-4 Pg 6
Boston Mar-06 100 ? ? ? ? Charity Response
Boston Sep-06 101 ? ? 67% 87% B-1 Pg 6,9/Charity Response
Boston Mar-07 105 ? ? 77% 88% B-1 Pg 6,9/Charity Response
Boston Sep-07 101 ? ? ? ? Charity Response
Rhode Island Mar-05 22 ? ? ? 64% Charity Response
Rhode Island Sep-05 32 ? ? ? 64% B-1 Pg 9/Charity Response
Rhode Island Mar-06 34 ? ? ? 95% B-1 Pg 9/Charity Response
Rhode Island Sep-06 35 ? ? 59% 85% B-1 Pg 6,9/Charity Response
Rhode Island Mar-07 36 ? ? 74% ? B-1 Pg 6/Charity Response
Rhode Island Sep-07 36 ? ? ? ? Charity Response
Washington D.C. Mar-06 22 ? ? 55% 75% Charity Response
Washington D.C. Sep-06 34 ? ? 59% ? B-1 Pg 6,9/Charity Response
Washington D.C. Mar-07 42 ? ? ? ? B-1 Pg 6/Charity Response
Washington D.C. Sep-07 72 ? ? ? ? Charity Response
New York Sep-06 24 17 At least 10 71% At least 59% A-4 Pg 6
New York Mar-07 38 ? ? ? ? Charity Response
New York Sep-07 61 ? ? ? ? Charity Response

In its earlier years, Year Up placed more students in part-time employment, but it doesn't appear to have done so for many students recently (see Attachment A-4 Pg 6), so we assume that numbers from attachment B-1 represent full-time figures as well. Year Up also notes that 25-50% of its graduates have enrolled in college, but here we focus on those gaining full-time employment, largely because this measure seems to have the most direct connection to Year Up's value-added (based on the curriculum, described above).

It seems that the non-Boston sites have generally had slightly worse numbers, not surprising since the model was developed in Boston.

Eyeballing the above info, we think a reasonable forward-looking estimate is that around 70% of enrollees can be expected to graduate, and around 85% of these graduates (so 60% of enrollees) can be expected to end up in full-time employment.

Retention is extremely unclear. Unlike our other finalists, Year Up did not provide us with clear retention data (data on whether and for how long its graduates keep their jobs). An email from Year Up (Attachment B-3) states that ”since Year Up began enrolling students in 2002, we have 462 alumni in our database, of whom we have records showing 407 are currently working." The above table makes it clear that 462 can't refer to all alumni since 2002, and we aren't sure which ones it does refer to - in particular, we aren't sure whether there is some bias involved (i.e., students who keep their jobs are more likely to be in the database). We also don't know whether the 407 students referred to are working part-time, working full-time, working the same jobs they were placed in, etc.

One other data point relevant to retention is in Attachment B-1 Pg 7, showing employers' survey assessments of whether their apprentices met/exceeded expectations for professional skills, technical skills, and communication skills. Satisfaction ranges from 80-100% and is most commonly around 90%, though meeting/exceeding expectations for one of these three qualities is not the same as staying employed

If we were to take the 407/462 number at face value, it would imply that 90% of those placed in jobs retain them for a meaningful period of time. If we assume that employer satisfaction can be equated with retention, we get the same number. But we believe retention could easily be much lower, and need clearer data to feel confident.

For now, we assume around 80% retention (lower than what a generous interpretation of the 407/462 number implies). Combining this with the estimate that about 60% of enrollees are placed in jobs (from above), this implies that about half of enrollees are placed sustainably.

Incomes and career paths

Those placed in New York can be expected to earn around $20/hr on average, though we have no sense of the distribution (how many earn much less, how many earn much more). Details follow.

Year Up grads in Boston earned, on average, close to $15/hr in 2004 and 2005 (see Attachment A-4 pg 6). Adjusting for 2 years of 5% annual wage inflation (since 2005) and a 25% New York premium (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2002 average annual earnings in Boston were $45,685 and in New York City were $57,708), $15/hr in Boston in 2005 would equate to $21/hr (or, $43,000/year) in New York in 2007. Although it is an extremely limited sample, the 10 Year Up graduates who graduated in July 2007 and have already found work are earning an average of $20/hr (Attachment A-4 Pg 6).

Attachment A-4 Pg 5 provides Year Up's overview of the career paths, which is based on very general numbers from the New York State Department of Labor. They paint an optimistic picture: computer support specialists earn a median of around $50,000, from $35,000 for low-skill jobs to $80,000 for high-skill jobs, while those in the "Business and Financial Operations" area earn a median wage around $65,000. We don't have a very good sense of where the jobs Year Up's graduates are being placed in fall in these classifications.

Does it work?

Intuitively, we have a relatively easy time seeing the value-added of the Year Up model. Although it selects its applicants very carefully - raising the question of whether they could succeed without its help - the jobs it places them in (mostly Computer Support Specialist roles) presumably require relatively specialized knowledge, and it's unclear how else very low-income people could get the necessary training. It's also possible that Year Up's relationships with corporations are helpful to clients; Attachment B-2 implies that they aim for relatively strong and lasting relationships with particular partners.

Getting a data-driven check on this logic is difficult; like our other clients, Year Up has not yet analyzed comparison groups (i.e., looking at whether people similar to its clients - but not in its program - achieve similar outcomes). Year Up's Charity Response (see the right hand side of the page) indicates a plan to conduct a study that will get at this question, by looking at outcomes for its August 2007 New York class relative to those randomly lotteried out of the program.

We look forward to the results of this study; in the meantime, we have constructed a very rough "comparison group" from the 2000 census, looking at the the NYC population that matches Year Up's applicants on age, ethnicity, and educational status. Of this group, approximately 6% have earnings comparable to those of Year Up graduates (see the analysis for details). By contrast, 10% of a similar population served by Year Up achieves this level of income, if you believe that Year Up picks out about the top 20% of the population (see our analysis of selectivity, above) and places about half sustainably in jobs.

The preceding paragraph has many weak links in it:

  • We have estimated that about 80% of those Year Up places in jobs hold those jobs sustainably – this is slightly lower than the "maximally optimistic estimate" of 90% discussed above – but without clear retention data (see above), we do not feel confident in this.
  • We have estimated the average wages for Year Up grads at around $40,000/yr, but have no sense of how many actually make $40,000/yr or more. For reference, see HOPE, whose graduates average about $10/hr of income – but around half of them make less than $8/hr. If only half of Year Up graduates make $40,000/yr or more, this would imply that they don't outperform our rough "comparison group" at all.
  • On the other hand, as we state in our census analysis, there are clear ways in which Year Up's participants might face more obstacles than our "comparison group" does - their low incomes, along with the mere fact that they come to Year Up for help, distinguishes them from the general population.

We feel that the numbers are consistent with, though not implying, a "Year Up" effect; considering both these and the intuitive argument at the top of this section, we feel moderately confident that Year Up systematically makes its clients better off than they would be without its help.

What does it cost?

We estimate that Year Up spends about $20,000 per enrollee; if half of these end up in sustainable employment, that's $40,000 per person placed sustainably. Details follow.

The following table is assembled from a mix of sources. For 2003, Year Up operated only in Boston (2004 IRS Form 990, Statement 2). We take enrollee numbers from Attachment A-4 Pg 6, and financial data from the IRS Form 990s available on GuideStar (since Year Up did not directly provide us this data). For 2004-2006, Year Up spanned multiple sites, and we take enrollee information from Year Up's Charity Response (on the right of this page). We use the financial data provided (Attachment D-1) for these years.

Year Up earns revenue from its clients' internships, and we find it appropriate to net this revenue with its costs; we don't know how much revenue was earned in this way for any year but 2006 (Attachment D-2 Pg 1). Assuming that we have the number of people served correct for 2006, this implies about $10,000 per person of apprenticeship revenue, reducing our estimate of the cost per enrollee from $30,000 to $20,000.

Year Costs ($ thousands) Number enrolled (all locations) Cost per enrollee
2003 $2,191 93 $23,559
2004 $3,710 115 $32,261
2005 $5,477 208 $26,332
2006 $8,368 350 $23,909
2007 (est) $12,984 491 $26,444

Year Up has been expanding relatively rapidly, and its overall costs per client have fallen if anything. For this reason, we are optimistic about its ability to serve more people with more funds.

The organization

Year Up is a focused organization, and we have reviewed its full set of activities. It appears organizationally/structurally sound, though we are somewhat low on details regarding its financials.

Size and scope. Year Up NYC is a branch of a national Year Up organization with headquarters in Boston (Attachment C-1 pg 1). We focused on NYC for purposes of understanding wages, budget, etc., but we used data from the non-NYC sites (DC, Providence, and especially Boston) as much as we could to get a sense of the general costs and effectiveness of the Year Up model. Year Up plans to open a San Francisco program in 2008 (see Year Up's Charity Response on the right side of this page).

Year Up has a much longer and more documented track record in Boston than at other sites, and our confidence in its results' being replicated across sites is only moderate.

Personnel. Year Up's 11-member Board appears to be mostly from the corporate for-profit world (Attachment C-2). The Executive Director, Lisette Nieves, is a Truman and Rhodes scholar with an extensive history of involvement with major nonprofits including The After-School Corporation and Jumpstart, and the instructors (presumably the people working directly with clients to teach job skills) are highly experienced (Attachment C-5).

Financials (see all attachments under heading D for sources).

Year Revenues (thouands) Expenses (thousands)
2003 $3,353 $2,191
2004 $7,412 $3,710
2005 $6,007 $5,477
2006 $12,054 $8,368
2007 (est) $20,429 $12,984

Year Up had a significant surplus last year, and expects another this coming year. Its fiscal position is strong, but this doesn't mean there's no use for more money: its expenses have grown rapidly, in line with (though lagging) revenues.

As of the 2006 audit, Year Up held around $12.4M in assets (Attachment D-1 Pg 4), equal to the 2006 expenses given in Attachment D-2 - this implies that they have about one year's worth of cash on hand.

Year Up's main source of revenue is foundations and corporations: as Attachment D-2 shows, about half its projected revenue comes from direct foundation and corporation grants, and another ~25% comes from apprenticeship fees.

Student stipends are a major expense, which makes sense to us: Year Up is putting low-income people through a 12-month full-time program, and students need to sustain themselves in the meantime. Beyond that, we have trouble understanding the expenses, which aren't broken out in much detail. Attachment D-1 Pg 5 lists a large "Training and Other" line item, while Attachment D-2 Pg 1 lists a similarly large "Program, Fundraising & Administration" line item. We don't know what to make of either of these.

Site visit. Holden Karnofsky (GiveWell's Executive Director) conducted a site visit to Year Up on 11/26/2007. His personal impressions are informally written up on The GiveWell Blog, here.

Conclusion

Year Up appeals to us because of its focus on carefully targeting people who are well-positioned to benefit, then getting them into relatively well-paying jobs. We also like the fact that it is a relatively focused organization that already operates several sites and could likely scale with more funding. Our extremely limited and potentially problematic analysis implies that Year Up graduates do better than they would without its help, though we hope to obtain better and clearer data on retention than what we have now.

We'd like to know more about:

  • Retention data. Do clients stay in the jobs they're placed in? How long and how often?
  • Situations of entering clients. Do they have issues with housing, substance abuse, etc.? What is their employment situation prior to coming to Year Up?
  • Training curriculum. We have a general overview, but we'd like to see the syllabus, formal layout, etc. to get a better sense of what clients are being trained to do and how they're being trained to do it. Note that Year Up answered this in their Charity Response.
  • Wage distribution. What portion of Year Up graduates earn more than $20/hr? $15/hr? Without this, we have trouble estimating Year Up's impact relative to what it's population would have otherwise achieved.
  • Definition of placement. Within what time frame must graduates find jobs? Must the jobs be full-time, or can they be part-time?

Attachments

A. Application and response

B. Program related attachments

C. Organization related attachments

D. Financials

Response from Year Up:

In a nutshell

What they do: Year Up intensively trains low-income, high-risk young adults, age 18-24, with high school diplomas and GEDs, and connects them to information technology and investment operations apprenticeships and jobs at Fortune 50 companies. Year Up students earn transferable college credits and develop relationships with mentors and role models. The goal of our program is to empower urban talent to reach their potential and connect to the economic mainstream.

Does it work?

Year Up works, as best expressed by a graduate on the day he received a job offer from our corporate partner: “I went to bed poor, and woke up middle class.”

Data on graduate job retention: Nationally, our data demonstrates that 407 of the 462 Year Up alumni who have maintained contact with us are working. Locally, Year Up NYC began operations in September 2006 and graduated our first class of 17 in July 2007; 14 of them are working at an average wage of $20/hour, including 8 who received offers of further employment at the corporation where they apprenticed. One is attending college full time, one who is working full time is attending college part time, and two others are looking for work with our assistance. Of the 17, 30% are GED recipients; 16% are court-involved; 25% are parents; 30% receive public assistance; 46% have severe housing issues, including homelessness; 13% are aging out of the foster care system. Prior to Year Up, if they could find formal work (many were unable to), it was in retail, food service, and other service jobs like messengering that paid a fraction of $20 per hour and offered no benefits and very limited opportunities for advancement.

Options graduates would have without Year Up's help: A large and growing body of research describes the bleak futures of disconnected young adults who do not receive services; see for example:

Of New York City's 200,000 disconnected young adults, 100,000 have high school diplomas or GEDs, and many of them are highly motivated. However, having a high school diploma or GED and motivation is insufficient for them to attain jobs with living wages- they need training and connections to employers. One only has to walk around our students' neighborhoods- Jamaica, Castle Hill, Morrisania, Washington Heights, Bushwick, East New York- to understand the employment options available to young adults who reside there. Yet of the 200,000 New Yorkers between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in school and not working, experts estimate that only 10,000 are currently being served, and very few of them are being prepared for jobs that will support a middle-class lifestyle. Our students and graduates confirm that they are gaining access to careers that would otherwise be completely out of reach.

What do you get for your dollar?

The cost of Year Up's services to each student is $25,000. There were 24 students in Year Up NYC's first class, of whom 17 graduated in July 2007 and 15 are currently working or in college. However, it is inaccurate to state that the cost per student sustainably placed in New York has been $40,000, because over the course of the year, the students earn $10,000 in stipends, which ceases if they do not complete the year; the seven students who did not complete the program left during the first six months of the program, and earned less than one third of the stipend, sharply reducing Year Up's costs.

Because of the intensity and duration of our services, Year Up is relatively expensive. However, when compared with the amount of resources that are invested in already privileged middle and upper class young adults to ensure their upwardly mobile trajectory - $50,000 a year in college expenses- our program is relatively inexpensive, and we offer a high return on investment. Our graduates' lives completely change as a result of earning $20 an hour with benefits and the opportunity to advance. They in turn are anchoring their families and neighborhoods, and changing corporate employers' perception of urban talent, opening opportunities for others to follow.

The Details

Whom do they serve?

While it is true that the Year Up application process involves rigorous screening, we are not seeking to eliminate applicants with significant risk factors, but to identify students with strong motivation to succeed despite their significant risk factors.

The other major constituency Year Up serves are corporations, who are in a constant "war for talent." Through Year Up, companies have access to a pipeline of talented, diverse entry-level employees who are both pre-screened and pre-trained, minimizing the risk of a bad hire, conservatively estimated to cost employers $18,000. The value of Year Up's model is captured in an article on Merrill Lynch's intranet, where Carl Freeman, head of End User Computing Support across America, said, “These interns have been amazing. They're very confident and want to go out on service calls on their own. They give 110% all the time and they're willing to take on new challenges."

Characteristics: Year Up collects ample data on our students' characteristics. Often we do not fully know the characteristics of our students until they have been in the program for several months and feel they can trust us with this highly sensitive information. In our current class, 10% are parents; 20% are aging out of the foster care system; 53% are severely low income; 10% are homeless; 13% have been involved with the court system, 21% have GEDs. The characteristics of our students often seal off young adults from any contact with the economic mainstream, severely diminishing their career prospects. This is why our students, particularly the ones who are 23-24 years old and have experienced first hand the barriers presented by these characteristics, greatly value the opportunity provided by Year Up.

What do they do?

The basic workplace skills Year Up emphasizes include punctuality, attendance, accountability, proper dress, etiquette, negotiation, and leadership. Our corporate partners include financial services firms and one hospital (we are actively seeking more partnerships with hospitals); we do not currently connect students to employment opportunities at universities. For students who would like to work in investment operations and who demonstrate the cognitive skills required to succeed in this area (largely math), we offer a track in investment operations. Investment Operations students learn about the history of the investment industry because prior to coming to Year Up, very few of them have had any contact with or knowledge of mainstream economic institutions, and we want them to understand the context in which they will work. The curriculum for investment operations is designed by Jeremiah Associates, who also train entry-level analysts at Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch.

What are the results?

Year Up serves young adults in four cities nationally (Boston, Providence, Washington DC, and New York) and will expand to San Francisco in 2008, at an average cost of $25,000 per student.

Placements: Nationally, we currently track employment retention at one point only: 4 months after graduation, where employment retention averages 86%. Locally, it will be four months after graduation on November 29, 2007. As of November 16, 2007, 88% of our 17 graduates are sustainably placed.

Long term retention data is extremely difficult to track because our students move frequently, often change cellphone numbers and email addresses, and don't always maintain regular communication with us. Of the 462 alumni from the full range of graduating classes who have established and maintained communication with our Boston office, our records indicate that 407 are currently working. More may be currently working but have not updated our Boston office. Graduates who work for entities other than Year Up's corporate partners should also be considered sustainably placed. Sometimes at the end of the apprenticeship, a corporation has a hiring freeze and does not extend an employment offer to a graduate, no matter how well the graduate performed. Meanwhile, other (often smaller) employers, who do not have the capacity to pay market rates to be a Year Up apprenticeship partner, are very interested in hiring graduates with the cachet of six months of experience at a Fortune 50 company, and offer good wages and benefits.

In New York City, and again, based on Class 1, our only local graduates, 3 months after graduation, 62.5% of the enrollees and 88% of graduates are working or in college. Already, our graduates have formed an alumni association and have raised money to support the current class. Year Up NYC has made it a priority to maintain close communication with them, and has an FAO Schwarz Fellow on staff dedicated to this effort.

Does it work?

Year Up is as concerned with results as our funders are. We have raised money and hired external evaluators, Economic Mobility and the Institute for Social Research, to conduct an internal evaluation of our program to make sure the services we provide help young people get good jobs and enroll in further education. Through a randomly assigned study, researchers will compare students who enrolled in the August 2007 class to those who were equally qualified to enroll but did not because the lottery assigned them to a control group. Researchers will compare information about employment and earnings from records at government agencies including unemployment insurance and Social Security earnings records and conduct telephone interviews about educational and employment outcomes.

As for comparisons, while Year Up does not have access to data on the characteristics of groups of entry-level talent corporate employers generally recruit and hire, we doubt very much that many entry-level corporate recruits have much in common with our students. In our current class, 10% are parents; 20% are aging out of the foster care system; 53% are severely low income; 10% are homeless; 13% have been involved with the court system, 21% have GEDs.

We invite the Clear Fund and all others who are interested in the effectiveness of our model to meet with our students, apprentices, and graduates, who confirm that participating in Year Up has dramatically altered their earnings capacity. They will tell you that their ability to achieve similar incomes without Year Up's intervention would be virtually impossible. If they were lucky enough to find work, they earned very little per hour, without benefits or opportunities for advancement. Many of them bear hefty responsibilities at a young age, but the only way for them to increase their earnings was to increase the number of deadend jobs they were working simultaneously. Without educational credentials, middle class social networks, and training, they had no entrée into careers that support a middle-class lifestyle. They felt they were doomed to stock shelves or work as security guards forever.

The Organization

Financials:

Corporate support for apprenticeships are donations and not considered fee-for-service.
Our major expenses are for training and program, fundraising, and administration. Our classes are in session from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm Monday-Friday, with the exception of Wednesdays when class dismisses early and apprentices return for reinforcement workshops. We hire high quality, high energy instructors with expertise in IT, business writing, professional skills, and current events, and contract with veteran trainers in the industry to serve as adjunct faculty for investment operations. Our student to instructor ratio is 20:1; our staff to student ratio is 4:1. Our academic program is so rigorous that students who graduate can earn up to 16 transferable credits from Pace University.
In addition, we offer a wide variety of other services to students, including assistance finding adequate housing, health care, child care, public benefits, etc. Among other activities, we assist students to open bank accounts, file financial aid forms, look for jobs, and appear in court. And a considerable amount of our time is spent listening to and counseling our students.

We conduct extensive community outreach to recruit students and thoroughly consider each applicant, assessing them throughout our multiphase admissions process. This is very time intensive.

We recruit and maintain relationships with volunteer mentors for each of our students who guide them about how to succeed in the workplace. We invite a volunteer guest speaker, a prominent individual with an inspiring story of personal and professional success, to speak to our students every Friday.

Equally important, we invest a tremendous amount of time in maintaining strong relationships with our corporate partners. We are in constant communication with individuals in many departments at each partner, and frequently visit so that we have first hand knowledge of how our apprentices are doing. Our corporate partners consistently offer valuable feedback on our curriculum and suggestions of ways to update it to reflect current market trends, ensuring that our students are well-prepared for their apprenticeships.

We maintain strong relationships with our alumni, supporting the formation of the alumni association, and assisting them with job searches and the college admissions process.

Our development efforts are intensive. We cultivate relationships with foundations, individuals, and government, host multiple events and site visits, and respond to as many requests for proposals as we can. We submit regular reports tailored to each funder.

Our leader and administrative support are also major investments for us.

Conclusion

We'd like to know more about:

  • Number of clients served across locations. How many students were served at each location in each year? This would help us use some of the data in Attachment B-1.
    Boston
    Start date: Number enrolled:
    7/01 22
    7/02 30
    2/03 45
    7/03 48
    2/04 55
    7/04 60
    2/05 74
    7/05 80
    3/06 100
    9/06 101
    3/07 105
    9/07 101
    Rhode Island:
    Start date: Number enrolled:
    3/05 22
    9/05 32
    3/06 34
    9/06 35
    3/07 36
    9/07 36
    Washington DC
    Start date: Number enrolled:
    3/06 22
    9/06 34
    3/07 42
    9/07 72
    NYC:
    Start date: Number enrolled:
    9/06 24
    3/07 38
    9/07 61
  • Retention data. Do clients stay in the jobs they're placed in? How long and how often?

    Year up response: Nationally, we currently track employment retention at one point only: 4 months after graduation, where employment retention averages 86%. Locally, it will be four months after graduation on November 29, 2007. As of November 12, 2007, 88% of our 17 graduates are sustainably placed. Through Year Up NYC's funding partnership with the Robin Hood Foundation, Year Up NYC will collect extensive employment and higher education retention data on our current and future classes, following them six months after securing full-time employment or college enrollment.

  • Situations of entering clients. Do they have issues with housing, substance abuse, etc.? What is their employment situation prior to coming to Year Up?

    Year Up response: In our current class, 10% are parents; 20% are aging out of the foster care system; 53% are severely low income; 10% are homeless; 13% have been involved with the court system, 21% have GEDs.

  • Training curriculum. We have a general overview, but we'd like to see the syllabus, formal layout, etc. to get a better sense of what clients are being trained to do and how they're being trained to do it.

    Year Up response: A detailed description of our academic program is included at the end of this response.

  • Wage distribution. What portion of Year Up graduates earn more than $20/hr? $15/hr? Without this, we have trouble estimating Year Up's impact relative to what it's population would have otherwise achieved.

    Year Up response: on average, Year Up NYC graduates from the July 2007 class are earning $20/ hour.

  • Definition of placement. Within what time frame must graduates find jobs? Must the jobs be full-time, or can they be part-time?

    Year Up response: currently we are tracking retention at four months after graduation, and 86% of our graduates are working four months after graduation.

  • Apprenticeships. What % of graduates work for the organization for which they interned? Ths would help us better understand how the Year Up model works.

    Year Up response: of the 17 NYC graduates to date, 8 are working at their corporate apprenticeship partner.

Description of Year Up NYC Academic Program

Year Up offers a rigorous education in Information Technology, Investment Operations, Business Writing, Professional Skills, and Current Events. Our academic program is complemented by Monday Morning Kickoff, when all students and staff gather to get inspired for the coming week, and motivational guest speakers and feedback sessions on Fridays. On Wednesdays, students are dismissed early and apprentices return from their corporate worksites for reinforcement workshops and Pace University coursework.
The Learning and Development phase of our program lasts five months, and is divided into three seven-week modules. During the first module, all students study Information Technology (IT); in the second module, a new track opens up in Investment Operations (IO) for students who are interested in pursuing a career in the field of financial services. Both the IT and IO tracks are offered in the second and third modules. Business Writing, Professional Skills, and Current Events are taught in all three modules.
In the apprenticeship phase, students complete portfolios and academic work that is evaluated by Year Up NYC's academic partner, Pace University. Students who graduate and complete their portfolio may earn up to sixteen transferable credits from Pace University.

Information Technology

This course teaches students to use and troubleshoot various software, including the Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Products, Windows Operating Systems and other software used in business. Skills are taught through classic lectures and hands-on interaction with the material.

The objectives of this course are:

  • To understand the fundamentals of computer technology
  • To create and modify emails, documents, spreadsheets, graphs and databases using Office 2003, Office 2007 and various free online programs such as Google Docs and Spreadsheets and Open Office
  • To navigate and administer the Windows XP and Vista operating systems
  • To troubleshoot Software issues
  • To learn more advanced IT concepts independently
  • To develop familiar with the Industry Certifications such as the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS), and Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST)

As students learn each application, they demonstrate their understanding by completing various projects, including the design and presentation of PowerPoint slideshows to their classmates. Students also learn hardware and networking support aligned with the most current A+ certification tests being administered in today's technology field. A+ certification demonstrates competency as a computer technician and is recognized as an industry standard. Through a national partnership with Microsoft, Year Up students and alumni will be able to take the certification test free of charge.

Investment Operations

This course is designed to give participants a theoretical and practical knowledge of the products, markets, and procedures (for front office, middle office, and operations areas) commonly used in the U.S. securities industry. This course incorporates a discussion of current, newsworthy topics such as: new regulations and compliance requirements, the expansion of automated systems for order execution, Electronic Communications Networks, new ways of distributing initial public offerings (IPOs), new products such as exchange traded funds and structured products, and changes in the traditional trading markets through mergers and IPOs.

The objectives of Year Up's Investment Operations curriculum are:

  • To understand the basic characteristics of the most widely traded investment products
  • To delineate the basic differences between trading and exchange markets
  • To understand how trading markets evolve over time
  • To identify the departments and procedures of the operations area of a typical brokerage firm
  • To understand how trades are cleared and settled
  • To trace the flow of an order from the order room to through execution and settlement
  • To understand the historic and current relationship between the Securities Exchange Commission and the industry
  • To discuss recent market developments, including the Patriot Act and Sarbanes-Oxley

Business Writing

Year Up's Business Writing class focuses on the practice of writing, communications and teamwork skills that will enable our students to successfully participate in many of the daily activities required in a professional work environment. These skills include public speaking, writing effective emails and letters, analyzing data and literature and working on assignments independently or as part of a group. The course also covers key skills expected in college-level English courses, including challenging reading, grammar rules and writing etiquettes that will help our students communicate effectively with instructors, coworkers, supervisors, clients and other readers.

The objectives of Year Up's Business Writing curriculum are:

  • To increase reading comprehension
  • To improve public speaking skills
  • To learn to communicate effectively in a professional business environment
  • To learn to write effectively
  • To construct a persuasive argument
  • To increase intellectual curiosity and appreciation for writing and communication

Topics covered in classes include active listening and reading, note-taking, writing for specific audiences, tone, memo writing, email etiquette, resume writing, cover letters, business letters, developing and using sources in argument, professional speaking, integrity and ethics in business, and researching businesses and industries.

Professional Skills

The corporate world demands a professional attitude and demeanor from its members in all situations. Year Up firmly believes that softer professional and interpersonal skills are equally important to technical and investment operations skills in order to negotiate the workplace successfully.

This course seeks to help students understand professional culture from interpersonal, team, and organizational perspectives. The intent is to prepare students for their professional lives by helping them develop strategies for more productive behaviors in the workplace.

The objectives are:

  • To develop an awareness of employer expectations in a professional setting and practice behaviors that demonstrate an understanding of business etiquette
  • To develop self-awareness of preferred learning styles and strategies and use these strengths to learn new tasks and concepts
  • To practice skills and techniques to organize time and manage projects effectively and increase interpersonal effectiveness at work
  • To understand and value collaboration and team diversity
  • To be prepared for and appropriately manage difficult work situations
  • To practice decision making strategies to ensure success at workplace

Current Events

This course is designed to help students gain a greater understanding of important ideas, events, issues and arguments that exist in the world around them. Students will become conversant in major topics in the technology industry and business community, as well as on issues relating to culture, politics and the media. Additionally, students will learn more about what's happening in the city, around the country and across the globe. Students will research, read, relay and discuss information about issues important to their careers and lives, and they will have the opportunity to practice formulating a well-informed argument and point of view.

Students are encouraged to draw on the following sources for class discussions: the New Yorker, New York Magazine, PC World, Wired, Newsweek, The Believer, The Economist, The New York Times, Crain's New York Business, and the Wall Street Journal.