02/12/2013 05:58 pm ET Updated Apr 14, 2013

A Holistic Approach That Creates Success for Year Up Students

What do you need to succeed?

If you cannot eat, you cannot learn. If you are homeless, you have no safe retreat for doing your homework. If cannot find affordable daycare for your children, you cannot fully focus on your training, work, or education.

Mother Teresa taught that a lack of love, of a listening ear, a person to lean on in times of distress, is much worse than a lack of food or shelter or even physical care. At Year Up, our Support Services team strives to provide love and a listening ear to our students that might be experiencing times of distress - and believe us when we say that most, if not all, of our students have had their fair share of distressed times.

We are absolutely convinced that our Support Services teams help to create success for our students in ways that classes on professional skills, college credits, and corporate internships simply cannot.

How does the system work? With small, but nimble and efficient, teams of full-time employees and MSW interns, we are servicing hundreds of urban young adults in need of our services every year. Any staff member on-site can access these services on behalf of an in-need student by simply filing a referral form. But if a student starts to fall behind his or her peers (an act that is quantifiable through a Points System unique to Year Up's program), he or she is automatically assigned to meet with a Support Services representative. The Support Services team meets with students based on need and urgency; together they assess the situation and develop solutions to the problems.

Sometimes our students' needs are beyond the means of what our Support Services team can provide. In these instances, our department reaches out to an external database of community providers that are capable of providing the urgent care our students need including healthcare, housing, and daycare referrals.

In addition to providing emotional support and professional resources to our students, some Support Services teams around the country have created donation-based boutiques where students can "shop" for professional clothing on-site. Our National Capital Region site (Washington, D.C.) recently opened their boutique to include children's clothing.

So, really... what do you need to succeed?

In a workforce development program, it's easy to say more education, more training, or more instructors are the keys to success. But we found the best solution for our students was creating a network of resources that holistically work together.

A big thank you to our Support Services teams around the country for their unconditional offerings of love and listening ears. With this team, our students are building bridges over the Opportunity Divide every day.