In the future, every young adult will have an opportunity to reach their potential— that’s the mission of Year Up Baltimore, an intensive training program that provides talented and motivated, yet underserved young adults ages 18 to 24 with a combination of hands-on skills development, coursework eligible for college credit, corporate internships and support.

Latonya Hines (Right) with 92Q’s “Chop” at Year Up Baltimore. COURTESY PHOTO/YEAR UP BALTIMORE

The mission of Year Up is to close the opportunity divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.

It’s a mission that Latonya Hines has taken to heart in her six years at Year Up where she serves as director of Admissions & College Enrollment— responsible for ensuring that the Admissions & Recruitment team brings in qualified young adults who are underserved and are seeking an opportunity to reach their potential.

“I love the mission,” said Hines, who attended Cherry Hill Elementary School, Deer Park Middle School and Randallstown High School.

“Their success and them returning to their communities to share the opportunity and help with this movement,” Hines said, when asked what is most important to her about Year Up Baltimore and her students.

Year Up achieves its mission through what they call a high-expectation model that combines marketable job skills, stipend, internships and college credits.

“One thing that stands out about Year Up is the soft skills taught to our students in their Career Development classes,” said Hines, a Baltimore native who was raised in Randallstown. “At Year Up, we give you a full toolkit that prepares your professional norms in the work place such as email etiquette, having one-to-one’s with your manager, building networking skills, interview skills, importance of being on time, and showing up every day ready to perform at your very best, just to name a few.”

Hines says her students serve as daily inspiration and the success stories remind her of why she works there.

One example is a student who “fired” himself from Year Up cope with the loss of a child and the death of a friend to gun violence. Despite those life-altering events, Hines says the student was determined to succeed.

“He knew that he had more to offer to himself, his family and the community so he re-applied to Year Up for a second chance at success and I am proud to say that he was able to complete Year Up after the second time around,” Hines said. “He was able to push through by discontinuing some of the outside relationships that were causing his set back and distractions. He was focused and determined to be a success story and he had all of the grit and determination to do so and he completed his internship at Whiting-Turner and was hired on as a full time employee at the end of his internship.

“He was the first and only student who was able to successfully complete Year Up after being afforded a second opportunity.”

Personally, Hines says she learned hard work from her mother.

“I believe that you should go above and beyond, and perform at a level of excellence in everything you do. Any successful or good thing you see in me— is all God, and I am grateful for any success I may have in my career,” she said adding that, “working at Year Up, I am beyond blessed.”

It’s difficult to overlook how Year Up changes so many lives, according to Hines.

“We have over 600 alumni that have successfully gone through Year Up from Baltimore City and surrounding counties. This is a huge impact because over 90 percent of our graduates are gainfully employed, have returned to school full time or a combination of both work and school,” Hines said. “Our impact needs to be stronger, we need to expand our reach to the thousands of young adults who need a Year Up to jump start their careers and bright future.”


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