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A Good Job Is a Gift That Keeps Giving

By: Peter Coy on Nov 30, 2022

This article is part of Times Opinion’s Holiday Giving Guide 2022. Read more about the guide in a note from Opinion’s editor, Kathleen Kingsbury.

I have returned to jobs again and again in this newsletter in 2022. In an April newsletter I wrote, “Jobs are as plentiful as they’ve ever been, but who’s feeling wonderful about the condition of American workers?” So for this year’s Giving Guide, I’m recommending donations to two organizations that focus on helping people get not just any job but a good one — the kind with decent wages, benefits and working conditions, along with meaning, respect and a path to advancement.

Help launch a career. In early January I wrote about Fred Mutsinzi, who grew up in Rwanda, moved to the United States for college, then wound up homeless after his money ran out. His life changed in 2014 when he was selling merchandise out of a cart in Boston and met a student who was participating in Year Up, a tuition-free job-training program. He got into Year Up, which allowed him to break into a career in finance. (It helped that while working he completed an online bachelor’s degree in 2018.) In January, at age 27, he became an investment analyst for a venture capital firm in Boston specializing in early-stage investments in robotics and artificial intelligence. He told me this week he recently left that job and is seeking other opportunities.

Year Up places graduates of its training program in internships with major employers, from Accenture to Zynga, many of them in finance and tech. As I wrote in January, those internships frequently lead to job offers or college admissions. The program is for low- to moderate-income high school graduates who are 18 to 29 years old (up from 26 last winter). Year Up says that more than 80 percent of its graduates are working or enrolled in school within four months of graduation from the program and that the average starting salary of those who are working is $52,000 (up from $44,000 last winter).

Gerald Chertavian founded Year Up in 2000 after working as a Wall Street banker and then building and selling an internet marketing company. I asked him this week what the organization would do if it had more money. Take on more recruits, he said. The goal for 2023 is 5,000 graduates, up from around 4,300 this year, but that’s still not enough to meet the demand, he said.

Year Up is expensive to operate because “our students were born 50 yards behind the starting line,” Chertavian told me. “There’s a young man in our program who’s living out of a car. He has no winter clothes. He comes into our offices to study. These are the people we are trying to help.”

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