Year Up Jacksonville Graduation Ceremony to be Held at Florida State College at Jacksonville; Former IBM Senior Executive and CEO of PS27 Ventures Jim Stallings to Speak at the Event


JACKSONVILLE, FLA – JANUARY 15, 2020 – Celebrating its fifth anniversary and the success of its ninth class of students, the nonprofit Year Up Jacksonville announced today that it will be holding a graduation ceremony at 5:30 pm on January 17th at the Nathan H. Wilson Center for the Arts at Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ).

Former IBM senior executive and CEO of PS27 Ventures Jim Stallings will be the keynote speaker at the event, which will also feature Monique Robinson and Rashone Lyles as Class Nine Speakers. Both Robinson and Lyles were recently hired by Bank of America after completing their internships there.

Year Up Jacksonville will recognize leaders at Bank of America and Amazon with Corporate Commitment Awards at the ceremony, and will recognize United Way of Northeast Florida with a Bridges Award.

Commenting on the program’s fifth year anniversary, the Honorable Lenny Curry, Mayor of Jacksonville, said: “Empowering young leaders and providing access to high-quality education and promising career pathways is vital to the future of Jacksonville’s workforce. I commend Year Up for its fifth year of service providing our city’s talented young professionals coaching, skill development, and internships at some of Jacksonville’s top companies and organizations.”

The hour-long ceremony also includes a screening of the Year Up-produced short film “Economic Mobility and the American Dream” narrated by presidential candidate Deval Patrick.

“The inaccessibility of the ‘American Dream’ has been at the center of Year Up’s mission to close the Opportunity Divide that persists for highly motivated yet underserved young adults,” said Morris Applewhite, Executive Director of Year Up Jacksonville.  “We are all in this fight together to drive economic mobility for our young adults and to level the playing field so the opportunities they have match the deep talent and ambition they possess. We all have a responsibility to put that elusive ‘American Dream’ within reach for our nation’s young people.”

Year Up Jacksonville provides free job training to talented and motivated youth (ages 18-24, without college degrees) at its campus at FSCJ. Students gain in-demand technical and professional skills in the first semester, then participate in a semester-long, credit-bearing internship at a top local company. Throughout the year, young adults earn college credits and a weekly financial stipend.

“These young adults are the leaders of tomorrow,” said Dr. John Avendano, FSCJ President. “We are privileged to have such tremendous partners as Year Up and many others in the community who support initiatives that enable and enhance educational excellence for all.”

Communicating with Year Up Jacksonville students and staff, Representative Tracie Davis, Florida District 13, wrote: “Thank you for constructing a well-needed program for young adults seeking employment and companies in search of exceptional talent. I know this journey has been long and for some, it may have felt as if this day would never come.”

“I am delighted to join family and friends in congratulating graduates on this momentous occasion,” said Senator Audrey Gibson, Florida District 6. “They should be extremely proud of finishing what they started: the true definition of a Winner!”

Launched in January 2015 at FSCJ, Year Up Jacksonville has since served more than 615 young adults, offering career pathways in Business and IT. More than 90 percent of graduates employed and/or enrolled in college within four months of completing the program, earning average starting salaries of $34,000/year.

In 2018, the federally-sponsored Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) evaluation of Year Up showed a 53% increase in initial earnings for young adults randomly assigned to Year Up compared with similar young adults in a control group—the largest impact on earnings reported to date for a workforce program tested in a randomized controlled trial.

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About Year Up

Year Up is an award-winning, national 501(c)3 organization that enables motivated young adults ages 18-24 to move from minimum wage to meaningful careers in just one year by providing the skills, experience, and support they need to reach their full potential. Through a one-year, intensive program, Year Up utilizes a high-expectations, high-support model that combines marketable job skills, stipends, coursework eligible for college credit, and corporate internships at more than 250 top companies. Its holistic approach focuses on students’ professional and personal development to enable young adults with a viable path to economic self-sufficiency and meaningful careers. Year Up has served more than 26,000 young adults since its founding in 2000, and serves more than 4,700 young adults annually across 26 U.S. cities, including Arizona, Baltimore, Bay Area, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Greater Atlanta, Greater Boston, Greater Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, the National Capital Region, New York City/Jersey City, Puget Sound, Rhode Island, South Florida, Tampa Bay, and Wilmington. Year Up has been voted one of the “Best Non-Profits to Work For” by The NonProfit Times and rated a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator, placing them in the top 1% of tracked organizations.

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