With Year Up Chicago, Alan Anderson ’04 fights gun violence through job training and placement
5/19/2014 - “Nothing stops a bullet faster than a job.”
Alan Anderson ’04 cites this quote as the driving force behind his work as regional executive director of Year Up Chicago
, a nonprofit that provides low-income adults ages 18 to 24 with one year of technical and professional training for college credit, as well as help arranging job internships.
The quote, coined by Year Up founder Gerald Chertavian, is apropos in a city that garners national attention for its gun violence.
“I guarantee some of those experiencing or dealing with trauma are at least related to somebody in Year Up,” he says.
Since joining Year Up in 2010, Anderson has made sure those enrolled have better access to job training and opportunities. He has also been instrumental in negotiating partnerships for the nonprofit, including one with City Colleges of Chicago to allow participants to receive college credit for classes and a deal with IT trade association CompTIA to provide fee waivers for certification exams.
Education a priority
Growing up in Detroit, Anderson saw firsthand the challenges posed by economic hardship, even with a father who exposed him to positive opportunities.
“He was so focused on education that it became our hallmark as a family and set a foundation for me,” Anderson says.
While moving up the ranks at Motorola, Anderson obtained his masters in engineering from Northwestern before enrolling in Kellogg. His job as a project manager for Chicago Public Schools planted the seeds for his work at Year Up. Working with then-CEO Arne Duncan, Anderson spearheaded initiatives to turn around low-performing schools.
“People are extremely passionate about educating kids in CPS,” he says. “I didn't have the notion that there’s one solution – all I cared about was that children had the best education.”
Anderson says his experience at Kellogg – including his work in the Net Impact Club – was instrumental in his career success, providing him with the tools to develop a nonprofit entity.
“Kellogg always made it a priority to ensure that its students understand that it’s not wrong to use what you learn for people who need your help,” he says.
Anderson projects that 1,000 people will have completed Year Up Chicago’s program by the end of 2016. He said that as it grows, Year Up would continue to make a positive impact on violence prevention in Chicago.
“When folks have to go to work in the morning, they’re not on the corner at 3 a.m.,” he says. “You put people in a job, their life changes; those other options aren’t options anymore.”