What better way to spend a Thursday afternoon than with some of the most passionate people in Philadelphia? Earlier this month, GreenLight Fund Philadelphia hosted a strategy session in partnership with Year Up Greater Philadelphia’s Admissions team to discuss ways to improve their recruitment and admissions strategy. Several members of GreenLight’s Advisory Council participated in the discussion: Cathy Ulozas (Drexel University), Kate Houstoun (Barra Foundation), Joe Pyle (The Scattergood Foundation), Sean Vereen (Steppingstone Foundation), Richard Binswanger (A Way to Donate), and Year Up advisory board member Sulaiman Rahman (DiverseForce).
Launched in 2013 as one of GreenLight Philadelphia’s first investments, Year Up was founded to close the opportunity divide by empowering young adults through professional development training for a career, not just a job. With the principal theme of growth and progress, Year Up and GreenLight advisory council members shared their knowledge and insights over coffee and scones. Discussion topics that ranged from marketing, recruitment, and partnerships all yielded cogent solutions to increase retention and interest through the Year Up admissions process.
Internally, Year Up has an opportunity to expand on pivotal points in their application process, such as the information sessions, interviews, as well as streamlining applications from interest to start date. Externally, intentional marketing and strategic partnerships with other high performing organizations will allow Year Up to expand their network and presence in Philadelphia. As the conversations surrounding growth developed, the most important piece in the puzzle remained prevalent: the students.
Year Up students are chosen for their drive, tenacity, and most importantly, their grit. In a society where past behavior is viewed as a predictor of future behavior, Year Up and its students are faced with the challenge of dismantling this stigma. Certainly, indicators of success are useful tools in measuring impact, but behind each indicator is a student with a story. For Year Up, redefining the concept of “indicators of success” through their “high support, high expectations” model is critical to a student’s personal achievement, and confidence in the program.
The strategy session unearthed innovative ideas that have inspired Year Up to reevaluate and implement new strategies over the next admissions cycle. With GreenLight’s support, Year Up plans to develop more relationships within the GreenLight network to leverage existing and new community partnerships to improve its recruitment and matching efforts.