Today’s guest spot features a conversation with author, Gerald Chertavian. His book A Year Up: How pioneering Program teaches Young Adults Real Skills for Real Jobs- with Real Success documents a true program that offers kids a community based alternative for college.
This program shows how the jobs are out there we just need to train people to work in them. The intensive program offers “disconnected” young adults training, mentorship, internships, and ultimately real jobs where they earn an average salary of $30,000/ year.
Below is an excerpt from the book and be sure to tune in at 3pm for the full conversation with Gerald Chertavian.
Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from A Year Up by Gerald Chertavian. Copyright © Year Up, Inc, 2012
Rashawn Facey-Castillo learns about Year Up and decides to apply. He shares his story.
Rashawn took an application and went back to the crowded home he shared with his mother, a licensed practical nurse, and six other children. Tuning out the domestic din, he sat down and started his application essay. “I wrote about why I feel I’m worth an opportunity. It was about counting myself out, feeling like the world had already had something against me. I had a chip on my shoulder because of all the anger issues that I felt, for so long.
“I lived in a single- parent home. Seven kids, not all my mom’s children. I am my mom’s oldest son. We moved around because of trouble between my mother and my father, who would come into the household, stay for a little while, leave, come back, they’d reconcile, then he’d be gone again. From an early age I was left to my own actions because my mom worked nights. As long as I can remember my mom has worked long hours, and she left it up to the older siblings to maintain the household when she went to work.”When he was about fourteen, problems erupted between his parents again, and Rashawn could no longer watch his mother endure what he felt was an abusive situation. He made a decision that I hope I’d make as well, although it came with significant consequences. Stepping in to protect his mother, Rashawn— a young man with no history of violence before or since— pushed his father down a flight of stairs, causing him to break both legs.
“So I got taken out of the house because of anger management and whatnot. I found myself running in the streets at a very early age. I would come home on the weekends and touch base with my mom. I had all types of jobs. I was going to school. There was never really a problem with me scholastically. My problem was how do I make money now? My mom has a lot of children; my father’s not around; I’ve been taken out of the house because of my father. I felt there was a lot of responsibility on my shoulders.”
He took any job he could find, stocking retail stores like Marshalls, Bradlees, and Strawberry, working as a health center custodian. For one endless summer he worked, underpaid and “under the table,” at a barbecue restaurant. “I would portion four ounces of coleslaw, eight hours a day. Thousands and thousands. I would bring the money home and help with groceries, just trying to maintain the household.”
Along the way he dropped out of high school, then got his GED at his mother’s insistence. The incident with his father had left him with a mix of guilt and resentment— and an unwelcome brush with the juvenile justice system. “That perpetuated a lot of the negativity. I felt like my reputation was already established for me and I wasn’t doing anything but fulfilling what people already saw in me. I was standoffish with people I felt had a negative perception of me. I didn’t trust anyone outside of my inner circle, my mom
He was touchy, aloof, and convinced that nobody really knew or cared about the injustices in his short life. Then Rashawn went through orientation with his new classmates at Year Up: “A lot of people had worse scenarios than mine. I was like, ‘Wow, and you survived that?”
Which brings us back to Rashawn, a new graduate who was eager, capable, and in need of a job. Though he had not interned there and was not a known quantity, State Street agreed to extend him a chance. Following his graduation, it hired him as a contract worker— not permanent and as yet without benefits. For a year and a half he did great work for the company in IT. Madge recalls one of their conversations during that time: “Rashawn came to me and said, ‘I love your organization, Madge. Although I got a very good offer to become a full- time employee in the fund accounting area, I would hate to leave IT. What do you think?’ I said, ‘Rashawn, it is a great thing if you have a broader background. You’re young, you are going to be an executive one day, and I think this is a fantastic opportunity for you to move from IT. Why don’t you go to fund accounting, learn a different part of the business? That would be fantastic.’ So Rashawn went there and got a permanent job, which is great because we do pay college tuition if you are a permanent employee. Rashawn finished college, and he did very well in the fund accounting area.”