Gerald Chertavian believes every young adult has potential and deserves a clear pathway to a great career, whether through college or directly into the workforce. And as founder and CEO of Year Up, he’s proving that with the appropriate training and employer support, it can take as little as one year for “opportunity youth” 16- to 24-year-olds who are neither working nor in school to move from poverty to a well-paid, in-demand career, often with a Fortune 500 company. 


About Gerald Chertavian

Gerald Chertavian is the founder and CEO of Year Up, one of the nation’s largest youth workforce development programs. Chertavian was a successful technology entrepreneur and Wall Street banker, but he found his true calling through many years as a Big Brother. He saw immense talent in the young adults he met, yet all too often they were stranded outside the economic mainstream. But when given a fair chance, with challenging standards and high support, Chertavian saw that these young people could accomplish anything.

In 2000, he dedicated his life and business expertise to closing the “opportunity divide,” and Year Up was born. Since then, Year Up has become one of the fastest-growing nonprofits in the nation and has been recognized by “Fast Company” and The Monitor Group as one of the top 25 organizations using business excellence to engineer social change.

Chertavian earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude, from Bowdoin College, and in 2017 he was awarded the Bowdoin Common Good Award. He received his master’s of business administration, with honors, from Harvard Business School and in 2014 received the Distinguished Alumni Award. He is on the Board of Advisors for the Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Initiative and is a former member of the World Economic Forum’s Youth Unemployment Council. He is also an Emeritus Trustee of both Bowdoin College and the Boston Foundation. His 2012 book, A Year Up, is a New York Times best seller.

More of Gerald’s work:

60 Minutes: Jobs program benefits Fortune 500 and underprivileged youth

How Reimagining Employment Practices Can Advance Racial Justice

Year Up

Grads of Life

Season 3, Episode 6 Transcript: Download