Graduate Elijah Rhodes was selected as the student class speaker and delivered a message about conquering adversity. Elijah interned at New York Life and just accepted an offer to work there full-time.

About 200 guests filled the Palladium Theatre to celebrate the achievements of the Year Up Tampa Bay graduates. Year Up Tampa Bay is a free program based at St. Petersburg College that provides young adults with one semester of in-demand technical and professional skills training, followed by a semester-long internship at a top local company.

The first graduation ceremony of the nonprofit job training program Year Up Tampa Bay took place January 9 at the Palladium Theater (253 5th Ave N). Low-income youth without college degrees began their Year Up training last February, and are now moving on to fulltime jobs at companies like Bank of America, New York Life, and Nielsen. Some quick facts about Year Up Tampa Bay:

  • It’s 100% free for students
  • The program is located at St. Petersburg College, and students are co-enrolled in Year Up and at the college
  • Students spend the first semester learning technical and professional skills
  • They then spend the next semester in a fulltime, credit-bearing internship at a top company in the region
  • They earn college credits and a weekly financial stipend throughout the year
  • They are required to dress professionally (like ROTC, but with suits and ties instead of uniforms)
  • Nationwide, 90% of Year Up graduates are employed or attending college within 4 months of completing the program, earning average starting salaries of $40,000/year
  • Young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 who have a high school diploma/GED but not a 4-year college degree are welcome to apply to the next class
  • Admission is based on a young adult’s determination to succeed, not past grades or experience
  • The program has on-staff social workers and offers other support services to ensure students complete the program. For information go to or call (727) 214-2727.

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