Philadelphia is a vibrant city, full of top-notch colleges and a robust community of strong, local and national companies; making the city an attractive place to do business and attain degrees. But in a city where nearly 18 percent of its young people are disconnected from school and employment and poverty is a reality for more than a quarter of the residents, innovative approaches to build the talent pipeline are imperative to the health and vitality of the community.[1]

This summer, Philadelphia took an exciting step to ensure the city’s youth have a bright future – rich with opportunities for social advancement and upward mobility. Year Up, with its successful track record and innovative service model, partnered with Peirce College to address some of Philadelphia’s most pressing issues. Year Up is a critical combatant of the Opportunity Divide and a welcome addition to the City of Brotherly Love.

Hailed by many prominent leaders in the corporate world as the “business ROTC,” Year Up Professional Training Corps has quickly established itself as a significant player in developing a workforce pipeline of talented young people. Through a one-year, intensive training program, Year Up Professional Training Corps connects low-income young adults (ages 18-24) with college credit, professional and soft skill development, and corporate internships.  Year Up Professional Training Corps Philadelphia joins Year Up PTC locations in Baltimore and Miami, and will empower Philadelphia’s disconnected youth to earn their degrees while providing critical work experience linked to labor market demands.

This exciting partnership with Peirce College – one of Philadelphia’s leading institutions for working adult-learners – means Year Up students will complete up to 27 credits at the college while participating in full-time internships at local institutions and Fortune 100 companies. [2]

Year up Professional Training Corps arrived in Philadelphia with high-expectations and an even higher demand for its services. With only an 8-week window for implementation and recruitment, Year Up Professional Training Corps quickly found that the resources provided by the educational and corporate sectors of the city proved to be instrumental. “It was a happy storm and everyone was so receptive” said Margaret Rizzo, Associate Director of Operations and People Development. “We were welcomed by the business community, nonprofits, colleges, charter schools. They were all so committed to the needs of Philadelphia and willing to collaborate. Their support was invaluable.” Considering the dual-components of academic services and employment preparation inherent in Year Up’s work, continuous cooperation between sectors is fundamental to Year Up’s model. Strong early reception from Philadelphia’s education and business communities is an indication of Year Up’s potential for growth and high-quality impact in this city. It puts Year Up on a path to becoming a leading agent of change in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia’s first Year Up Professional Training Corps cohort will consist of 20 students this semester and an additional 20-25 students beginning in the spring, with a total of 8 businesses committed to partnerships. The companies where students will undergo internship placements range from large financial firms to university medical centers. It is an impressive list of companies that will soon become familiar with the value of employing Year Up interns. In fact, the biggest challenge the Year Up Philadelphia team faced was denying interns to businesses that were eager to bring them on. “It was hard to say no. But at the end of the day, it was an issue of stability,” said Daniel Holland, Associate Director of Corporate Sales and Partner Relations, “we couldn’t increase the size of our first cohort without having to overextend ourselves. It would be a disservice to the students.” However, the Philadelphia team is confident that their biggest challenge is an indication of good things to come “It’s a great sign for the future. It means our network of interested businesses is growing and becoming more diverse.”
In the coming years, Year Up envisions substantial growth in participating companies and the number of students they serve. The Philadelphia team is continuing to foster relationships with colleges and nonprofits that engage young people and they hope to become a permanent, multi-campus fixture in Philadelphia.
Through this successful model, Year Up is changing the way the corporate world perceives and engages the urban populations of the cities they do business in. GreenLight is extremely proud of the results Year Up has achieved and we are grateful for the positive impact it is sure to have on Philadelphia’s young people.