I posted that I started blogging on both Facebook and Linked-in.   The sites helped drive traffic to these new blogs I just started posting over the past month.   The ones where I blog about the non-profits and philanthropy seem to generate the most comments / interest.

So, today, I’d like to talk about one of the terrific organizations in the DC area … the group is called Year Up.  I’m meeting w/ the head of the DC office, Tynesia Boyea Robinson, today for lunch.   Much like Susie Kay at Hoop Dreams as well as many other Executive Directors of non-profits, Ty is a high-energy, smart, disciplined and vivacious person.

Year Up, as described on its’ website, http://www.yearup.org, is a one-year, intensive training program that provides urban young adults, ages 18 – 24, with a unique combination of tech and professional skills, college credits, an education stipend and corporate apprenticeship.

I’m a huge believer and proponent of this program since I’ve seen first-hand what kind of terrific young men and women come from this organization.   Since Jan ’07, we’ve had five to seven apprentices at AOL, every six months for the past two years.   I’ve “group mentored” each group of students — primarily meeting with them on a regular basis; introducing them to others at AOL (outside of their dept); teaching them about business, financials, marketing, networking, diversity and inclusion, etc.

After finishing their six-month apprenticeship, the goal is to gain full time employment.   We’re proud to say that nearly 50% of the apprentices have become full-time employees at AOL.  That says a lot about the program, about the quality of students and the commitment of AOL to this program.   Todd Alston, an AOL co-worker and good friend, and I have been both fortunate to be honored with Year Up’s “Urban Empowerment” Award, but this is truly a group honor since there are so many others at AOL (too numerous to list) that have been involved as managers, mentors, coaches, etc.

So, in this week of Thanksgiving, I’d like to say thank you to the leaders of Year Up for their drive and commitment to make a difference in the lives of our urban youth; to the many students we’ve worked with over the past two years for your desire to improve yourself and to create a path to a brighter future; and to AOL and the employees for their commitment to this terrific and important program.   We all have the opportunity to create a more level playing field for others, especially the youth in our community.   Thanks to all for your commitment and efforts to make this happen.