A young woman named Crystal Martinez took the microphone at a partnership celebration between National Louis University and Year Up Chicago to tell what her experience with Year Up has been like.
“Before Year Up, I was working a dead-end job at minimum wage. I had no career path,” she said at the Jan. 12 event.
Before committing to Year Up, a non-profit, year-long program which prepares motivated, low-income people aged 18-24 for jobs at major companies, she said she hadn’t known what a balance sheet was–nor the stock market nor hedge funds.
But after completing Year Up’s financial operations track, she feels informed and capable of networking with businesspeople to increase her chances of success, she said.
“I’m going to rock the socks out of my internship,” she continued, “and hopefully after that more doors will open.”
That’s exactly what Year Up Chicago hopes will happen for more students as it expands its Chicago operations through the partnership with NLU, which is titled Year Up Chicago at National Louis University.
”It’s critical that students from all socioeconomic backgrounds are empowered to improve their lives through access to education. In turn, they will create positive change in their communities,” said Nivine Megahed, Ph.D., president of NLU.
“Year Up has a proven model that facilitates the professional development of these students and eventual college completion,” she said.
Both Megahed and Jack Crowe, executive director of Year Up Chicago, thanked NLU board member Thomas J. Formolo for putting their organizations in touch with each other.
Last year, Year Up Chicago served 160 students, and in 2017 will boost that number to 220 through its partnership with NLU. Thirty students are starting the program in NLU classrooms this month, and will study through June, when they will embark on credit-bearing six-month internships with local companies. Many of the internships will take place at Year Up partners, which include Bank of America, Google, Hasbro, JP Morgan Chase and many other major businesses.
Year Up Chicago students will be welcome to complete their four-year degrees at NLU, whether they choose to attend full-time or part-time, in face-to-face, online or blended classes.
Nationally, Year Up operates in more than a dozen cities, and reports 85 percent of its graduates are employed or attending college full-time within four months, according to its website. They earn average pay of $18 per hour, which translates to $36,000 per year.
“National Louis University shares Year Up’s commitment to providing young adults with marketable skills and experience,” said Crowe, of Year Up Chicago. “We’re excited to continue expanding our program to reach even more young adults in need of an opportunity, and provide employers with the talent they need to stay globally competitive.”
Year Up’s mission is to bridge the opportunity divide, which on one side has millions of talented young people without opportunities, and on the other side has companies needing skilled, talented workers for entry-level positions. Year Up regularly communicates with employers to see what skills, including soft skills and tech skills, they need in their workforces, then incorporates those skills into the training it provides its young participants.