Year Up program coming to Charlotte will change lives

Year Up program coming to Charlotte will change lives

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A new program coming to Charlotte is designed to help with economic mobility. It is called the Year Up Program. It will help people acquire the skills needed to get good paying jobs.

Charlotte is the 22nd US city where Year Up has set up shop. The goal is after one year - students will get a job. It worked for Brittney Ball.

“If I didn’t find Year Up,” Ball said. “I do not know where I would be - probably in DC struggling.”

Several years ago, Ball signed up for Year Up when she was in DC. She was homeless, had a baby and had no job or skills. She says Year Up saved her life.

She fit the requirements. Year Up is for disadvantaged young people between 18 and 24 years old. They must have a GED or high school diploma and must be motivated.

The first six months, the program teaches the applicants skills needed to succeed in the workplace.

"We learned about how to build a computer," Ball said. "How to change out memory and things like that. They also helped out with public speaking and English."

The next six months, applicants are paired with a paid internship. The goal is after that internship - applicants can land a job.

“I love that they give kids, young adults who would normally be dismissed. I love that they give them a chance to have a career and a career that could change their lives,” Ball said.

Ball was president of her graduating class. She found her Year Up job in DC. Years later she moved to Charlotte. She found a job in Charlotte as a software engineer because of the skills she learned through Year Up. She says her life has improved tremendously.

“Seven years ago I would not think that I would be in the situation I am in now,” Ball said. “Where I could take care of my kids on my own, pay my bills, just live a normal adult life.”

Year Up will be housed at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC). The program will start in August. Administrators say they are looking for about 40 people who have what it takes to be successful.

“When we look for admitting students, not only do they have interest and potential but they have the stamina to withstand the year,” Year Up Administrator Hamid Elaissami said.

Bank of America is the company instrumental in bringing Year Up to Charlotte. Bank of America has been talking about the move since 2013. Leaders say this was the perfect time to set up a new office.

"Economic mobility and disconnected youth is a big topic here in Charlotte," Bank of America Market President Charles Bowman said. "Something we care about."

The bank has partnered with Year Up for more than 10 years. Bank of America has employed about 500 people through the program. Leaders say Year Up has provided some good employees.

"What we’ve found out over time - better employees, "Bowman said. “Better trained, more loyal, more longevity with us, lower turnover and they were some of the best employees that we had.”

The bank is committed to hire 10,000 employees from low to moderate income level communities. Year Up will help Bank of American reach that goal.

Bowman said those employees start off with entry level jobs that could potentially grow into management level positions.

The new employees would get paid more than $15 an hour. Bank of America says there are a variety of jobs Year Up graduates could apply for and get.

“In some cases they have entered the global technology and operations,” Bowman said. “They may be in computer programming. They may be in operations. They may be in sales. They may be in the servicing center.”

So far Bank of America has supplied about 500 jobs for Year Up graduates. Year Up administrators believe the program offers the type of employees companies are looking for these days.

"They're interested in technical skills not as much as professional skills," Elaissami said. "Can they show up on time, good attitude, great communication skills."

This is a free program. Applicants get paid $50 a week during the training and $150 week during the internship.

"The fact that Year Up has given them a foot in the door is awesome," Ball said "Because they probably would never have this opportunity on their own."

If interested in finding more information about Year Up or signing up, click here.

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