Empowering low-income young adults to earn a living wage

Year Up SMThis blog is part of our 2016 High Impact Giving Guide spotlight series. Now in its sixth year, the guide is a resource for donors who want to make a greater social impact with their giving. Here’s a profile of one organization we feature this year.

Almost 6 million young adults in the United States are currently unemployed and not in school, and lack the advanced skills and post-secondary education that many employers are looking for. Work experience and continuing education options for unemployed youth can help them meet the needs of today’s job market and earn a living wage.

Year Up works with low-income high school graduates ages 18-24 and is active in 18 cities nationwide. Participants receive 6 months of skills education where they learn both technical and professional skills, and 6 months of a corporate internship, which often leads to a full time offer upon graduation of the program. Watch the video below, part of a series from WorkingNation, for a look at the personal impact that Year Up has on its participants.


Chris is not an anomaly among Year Up participants. Of students who start the Year Up, 77% complete it. 100% of students who complete the first phase of the program are placed into internships, and 89% of graduates are either employed or attending college full time within four months of program completion. A 2014 external study found that Year Up increased participants’ annual income by an average of 30%, which is $13,000 more than a similar group who did not participate.

Want to help this cause? The philanthropic cost of the program is about $26,000 per successful student, which you can offset by making a donation here. You can also sign up to become a volunteer mentor, or one of the corporate sponsors that offers internships for participants. If Year Up isn’t offered in your community (find the list of cities here), you can consider other evidence-based programs working with this disconnected youth population, including YouthBuild or National Guard Youth ChalleNGe. Or, go to Service and Conservation Corps’ website for a map of groups by state.

Find our full profile of Year Up, along with 10 other high impact opportunities and other tips for giving, in our High Impact Giving Guide.

If you enjoyed this spotlight, follow us on Twitter for a preview of next week’s spotlight, a high impact organization working to combat hunger.