Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help address educational disparities and provide assistance to unemployed workers. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • Promoting sustained wage growth: Year Up is a tuition-free job training program targeted toward young adults from low-income communities. The program prepares participants for careers in fast-growing technical fields, ultimately aiming to enable them to secure jobs with significantly higher wages.

  • Operated through local affiliates: Year Up operates local offices, which provide services to participants in select cities and regions. Typically, these local offices establish formal relationships with multiple corporate partners and a community college. To participate, individuals must be between 18 and 29 years of age, be of low or moderate income, have a high school diploma or GED, be available five days a week (Monday through Friday) for the entire duration of the program, among other requirements.

  • Preparing participants for in-demand careers: Year Up offers multiple training pathways, depending on the needs of local employers. These may include financial operations, information technology, software development and support, and more. Each pathway lasts one year and includes a learning and development and an internship phase. During the learning and development phase, participants take full-time coursework focused on developing professional and personal skills. In the second phase, participants work as interns at local corporate affiliates and participate in weekly, half-day skills workshops.

  • Offering support services: During both phases, participants receive support from an external, professional mentor and Year Up coaches and social workers. Support services may include transportation assistance, referrals to housing and food assistance programs, support covering the cost of books and educational fees, and more. Upon graduation, participants have access to job search and other career coaching services.

Cost per Participant
$28,290 per participant

Two studies with rigorous designs demonstrate that Year Up is a well-supported strategy for increasing earnings among low-income adults.

  • A 2022 randomized controlled trial found that, six years after graduation from Year Up, the average earnings of program participants were 30 percent higher (approximately $8,000 per year) than for members of the control group.

  • A 2014 randomized controlled trial found that, over a three year period after graduation from Year Up, participants earned 32 percent more (approximately $13,000 total) than members of the control group.

Note: This content is currently under review.

  • Identify an education partner: When launching a Year Up site, local leaders should identify a strong community college partner. Community college partners can assist Year Up programs in awarding college credit to participants for the coursework they complete during their initial learning and development phase. Additionally, community colleges may provide instructors to teach these classes, lend their expertise in developing a locally-tailored curriculum, or assist with recruitment efforts.

  • Build relationships with area employers: Developing strong relationships with corporate partners is key to the success of a Year Up implementation effort. Not only do corporate partners provide internship opportunities for program participants, but they typically cover a significant portion of the cost to provide students with stipends and tuition-free coursework. As such, local leaders should identify industries in their area with significant workforce needs and position Year Up as a solution to their talent acquisition needs.

  • Use a holistic selection process: When recruiting participants, Year Up sites should use an inclusive selection process that allows applicants to demonstrate their fit for the program in multiple ways. For example, instead of over-relying on past grades or test scores, programs should heavily weight applicants’ performance during the interview in making admissions decisions. The interview can also serve as an opportunity to identify support services that a new participant may need.

  • Hire staff with local knowledge: When staffing a new Year Up site, priority should be given to hiring individuals with established local networks, especially with young adults. For example, hiring an admissions specialist who has relationships with area school districts, social service agencies, or other young adult-serving organizations, can strengthen the site’s ability to build a strong recruitment pipeline.