Do you ever become suspicious at just how many organizations exist in Chicago whose missions are a little *too* on-point and necessary? Do you ever question if there can really be so many individuals and teams of people who care so genuinely and invest so much time and energy into meeting the unmet needs of populations who have been sidelined in the hustle and bustle of modern big city economic, educational, and social inequity?
Nah, we never question it either. We just count our blessings that so many amazing organizations exist and, with a little luck and a lot of hard work, welcome them into the Zealous Good family. Meet our newest partner in earnest – Year Up Chicago!
Year Up is a national organization whose chapters across the country offer intensive one-year professional and technical skills training programs to predominantly low-income urban 18-24 year olds with a high school diploma or GED. Graduates of the program emerge with 6 months of college credited skills development and 6 months of of internship experience in major corporations like Citadel, JP Morgan Chase, Unisys, and AON. I cannot stress enough how imperative programs like Year Up are; they truly respond to a deeply ingrained and profound social need:
A recent Annie E. Casey Foundation report estimates that 5 million youth in this country have not progressed beyond a high school diploma and are neither employed nor enrolled in postsecondary education (Kids Count Data Center, 2009). Youth experiencing this “disconnection” from the economic mainstream make up nearly 15% of all 18-24 year olds, and illustrate the magnitude of a national “opportunity divide” that is getting worse. Compounding the problem is the fact that most new jobs, and virtually all that offer wages sufficient to support a family, require at least some education and training beyond high school, even at the entry-level (Carnevale and Reich 2000). Even one year of postsecondary education increases lifetime earnings by 5 to 15 percent per year. The result is a dual class economy where the people that stand to benefit the most from higher education and career opportunities find it hardest to do so. Without proper guidance and opportunities, these young adults will continue to face enormous challenges in transitioning from high school to higher education and family-supporting careers.
Among the many communities served by our nonprofit partner organizations, this group stands to gain a measurable educational and social benefit from Year Up’s unique programming. Your support is funneled directly to young Chicagoans whose access to educational and professional opportunities is immediately improved.
Year Up Chicago is seeking, among others, the following in-kind donations:
Laptops, tablets, and other computer equipment for students
Dry-cleaning services, for students to go into internships and on interviews in fresh suits
Silent auction prizes, to help raise money for Year Up’s programming
Check out the rest of Year Up’s wishlist, and be sure to welcome them to the family!