Here’s How Young Adults Can Increase Minimum Wage Salaries in One Year

— Young adults find career pathways through Year Up Charlotte.

By Loán C. Lake, Communications Director | March 31, 2020

This article is one of three stories about Year Up Charlotte and its impact in the community.


Why Year Up?

When the Boston-based program Year Up expanded into Charlotte in August 2019, it launched a cohort of over fifty participants, one of the largest launch classes in the organization’s history. The program opened its doors with generous community support that included lead investments from Bank of America Foundation, the John M. Belk Endowment, and The Duke Endowment, in partnership with Central Piedmont Community College and Leading on Opportunity. Year Up Charlotte sought the counsel of Leading on Opportunity due to our expertise in economic mobility and our ability to create connections that would help their team to strategically integrate into the community and be part of the solution to address mobility.

Year Up is a non-profit organization focused on improving economic mobility for 18 to 24-year old young adults through non-traditional education and paid internships in the areas of: Project Management, Application Development, and Cyber Security. Understanding the importance of creating more on-ramps to education, training, and employment for our disconnected youth and young adults, the organization takes young adults from minimum wage to meaningful careers within a one-year period. On average, Year Up participants are earning starting salaries of $38,000 annually or attending a four-year college within four months of program completion. Nationwide, 90% of Year Up graduates are employed or attending college full-time within four months of completing the Year Up program, with average starting salaries of $38,000/year.

How It Works

At Year Up Charlotte, students learn soft skills such as networking, delivering elevator pitches, and interviewing techniques in a structured classroom setting at Central Piedmont Community College’s main campus for six months. Then they are assigned a six-month internship with a local corporation where their knowledge is put into practice. Currently, participants are in-training at Bank of America; however other corporate partnerships are being established as well.

We sat down with Elise Ford, Site Director for the Charlotte location, to learn more about the program. Ford leads and supports the efficiency and growth of the local program in partnership with market-based and national leadership. “[Our] students are able to take those skills that they learn in the classroom and work with managers to apply them in a real-world setting,” Ford said. “They are hardworking and have the talents and the smarts. All they really need is that runway – the access and the direction to be successful,” Ford said.

Year Up Charlotte is committed to providing access for more young adults and developing a pipeline to companies that have an immediate need for talent. “Our students have it within them. We’re just looking to help them shine,” Ford said.

In our next two articles we will share how participating in Year Up Charlotte has changed the lives of Marques Washington and Aliyah Carelock.

Learn more about how to support Year Up Charlotte.