Central Piedmont Community College announces its inaugural Year Up Charlotte class of 40 students graduated on July 23 during a virtual commencement ceremony, hosted by Year Up Charlotte and its long-term partner, Bank of America.
The college began partnering with the national nonprofit Year Up in August 2019, when the organization launched its Charlotte location with generous support from Bank of America, the John M. Belk Endowment, and the Duke Endowment. The intensive, yearlong program prepares students (ages 18–26) for entry-level technology and customer-facing roles in fields such as business operations, information technology, and software development and support.
Trinity Simpson, one of the students graduating from Year Up Charlotte’s first class, delivered the keynote speech at the July 23 commencement ceremony. Simpson feared that if he stayed in his small town in North Carolina, he would “be working a minimum wage job with no opportunity and become another statistic.” He has completed his Year Up internship at Bank of America in cyber security and has accepted an offer as an operations control analyst at the bank.
The students enrolled in Central Piedmont’s Year Up program at the beginning of the 2019 fall semester. Participants spent their first semester taking technical and professional skills classes taught by Central Piedmont and Year Up staff, and then participated in a full-time, credit-bearing internship at a corporate partner firm during the spring term, learning the real-world skills they would need to excel in the workforce.
“The Year Up Program provides a challenging and nurturing space for students to get the skills they need to succeed in today’s workforce,” said JJ McEachern, dean of enrollment management at Central Piedmont. “As a result, it’s one of the most successful partnerships in higher education. It not only supports students during their educational journey, but also through the career phases of their life.”
The program is provided to students at no cost. Throughout the year-long program, students earn college credits and receive access to a robust offering of services and supports from Year Up to promote their success, including an educational stipend. They also have access to Central Piedmont’s many services, including the college’s library and tutoring resources,
Nationwide, 90% of Year Up graduates are employed or attending college within four months of completing Year Up, with average starting salaries of $42,000/year. Because of the program’s ability to help move the economic mobility needle, it has garnered the support of multiple community partners across the Charlotte region, including the John M. Belk Endowment, the Duke Endowment, Bank of America, and Leading on Opportunity.