Chicago Tech Rocks Spotlight: Year Up Chicago

Over here at Synap, we’ve been on a high since we announced the first everChicago Tech Rocks benefit concert! Local tech bands like The Locals, Goodnight Criminals from Centro, and Panic! At the Kernal, from Rally Health will get the crowd amped up and we’re sure the headliner, an internationally-known, Chicago-based garage rock band, will bring the house down! While the music and a chance to win a Tesla Model S is pretty excellent, the real reason we’re bringing together the Chicago tech community is to support local organizations that focus on educating, training and maintaining top tech talent in the city. Our six chosen beneficiary organizations are all approaching this challenge in unique ways and we wanted to highlight the good work they’re each doing. So, without further ado, we’d like to introduce everyone to our first organization, Year Up Chicago!

What is Year Up Chicago?

Year Up Chicago is a one-year workforce development program for urban young adults ages 18–24. They work to bridge the Opportunity Divide – the gap between those who have access to education, resources, and livable-wage employment, and those who do not. This is accomplished through a high expectations, high support model that combines marketable job skills, internships, supportive services, and college credits.

Part of a national network, Year Up Chicago aims to have a transformative impact on the young adults we serve. In order to create such change, Year Up focuses on increasing access to livable-wage jobs, providing a pathway to post secondary education, and building productive social networks for these urban youth. To succeed in today’s knowledge-based workforce, young people need not only the technical skills required for jobs, but also the professional skills employers demand. Year Up’s direct service program equips students with both of these skill sets, as well as work experience, support and guidance to ensure their continued success.

What does Year Up Chicago offer and how does it work?

Year Up Chicago places a large emphasis on academic and professional rigor, setting high expectations for quality of work and professional behavior. A strong structure guides students through the steps necessary for achieving success in both the classroom and workplace by focusing on students’ professional and personal development to help them achieve economic self-sufficiency.

The program combines hands-on skill development, college credits, and corporate internships to prepare students for success in professional careers and higher education. The program is free for all accepted applicants (in fact, they receive a stipend), but it requires strong motivation and a lot of hard work.

They align their training with corporate partner needs and market trends to ensure their students learn in-demand, real-world skills. The students take away valuable technical and professional skills, and gain work experience through internships at top companies.

For the first six months of the program, students develop technical and professional skills in the classroom. Students then apply those skills during the second six months on an internship at one of Year Up’s corporate partners, including industry leaders like Google, Salesforce.com, Allstate, LinkedIn and Bank of America. Students earn college credits and a weekly stipend, and are supported by staff advisors, professional mentors, dedicated social services staff, and a powerful network of community-based partners.

Year Up by the numbers

Year Up Chicago has an incredibly wide reach. The local chapter serves all of Chicagoland with students coming from a variety of backgrounds.

On a national level, the program has served over 13,000 students and will add another 3,000+ to that total by the end of the 2016. They also boast 100% internship placement at over 250 corporate partners. Eighty-five percent of Year Up graduates will be working or in school, full-time, within four months of graduation and those working see an average starting wage of $18.00 an hour. Those are some pretty powerful numbers!

#STEMCareers

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