When Andrea Feingold left her job as co-head of the high-yield
group at Newport Beach, California–based Pacific
Investment Management Co. in 2001, she had two items on her
agenda: to launch a Boston-based credit-specialist hedge fund
firm with former Pimco colleague Ian O’Keeffe, and
to play a significant role in a not-for-profit organization.
"Young people’s development particularly
interested me," Feingold explains. And so after helping to set
up Feingold O’Keeffe Capital eight years ago, she
turned her attention to the mission of Year Up — a
Boston-based group that sponsors yearlong intensive education
and apprenticeship programs for young adults, ages 18 to 24,
who could not otherwise afford postsecondary education or
expect to get good jobs.
"I wanted to get involved and not just write a check," recalls
Feingold. She set up a meeting with Gerald Chertavian, who had
founded Year Up in October 2000 to close what he calls the
"opportunity divide" by providing low-income, minority youth
with skills, experience and support. The program combines job
training, stipends, paid apprenticeships, college tuition and
other support to help young adults attain self-sufficiency.
Feingold’s timing was perfect. Chertavian, a
Harvard Business School graduate and former software
entrepreneur, had only recently taken Year Up out of incubation
at Boston-based private equity firm Alta Communications. The
program, headquartered near Feingold
O’Keeffe’s Boston Back Bay offices,
graduated 22 students in its first class, in June 2001, "with
seed capital from friends and family and people like Andrea,"
Chertavian says. Today its annual budget is $24 million, helped
greatly by a recent $17 million fundraising drive, giving Year
Up the beginnings of an endowment fund.
The program has sponsored more than 1,300 students and will
support an additional 800 this year through a national network
that includes sites in Boston; New York; Providence, Rhode
Island; San Francisco; Washington; and, most recently, Atlanta.
Year Up has about 80 corporate partners, and more than 85
percent of its graduates have gotten jobs that pay an average
of $30,000 per year. More than half continue their college
education after completing the Year Up program, often attending
classes part-time and in the evenings. CVS Caremark, Fidelity
Investments, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Staples and State Street
Corp. are among the companies that have hired Year Up
Feingold had an immediate impact on Year Up by joining its
national board as treasurer. Susan Meehan, director of finance
and operations for the group, says she goes to the hedge fund
manager for crucial guidance. "Given we’re a
nonprofit trying to operate like a really well-run business,
the business perspective that she brings is very helpful,"
Feingold has also taken part in special projects, like the
creation of an audit committee and an investment program, and
she has been a mentor twice. Students, who must have a high
school diploma or an equivalency degree to participate, often
have serious problems that include past drug abuse, encounters
with the law or single motherhood. Feingold helped one young
woman in particular learn that such hurdles are not
insurmountable. "Even though we came from different
backgrounds," Feingold says, "I could see myself in her, and
she could see herself in me."
For more information, visit www.yearup.org .