“Our focus is to upskill and place traditionally underrepresented talent,” says Michelle Sims of her company’s business model. Sims seeks to close the opportunity divide by placing what Year Up Professional Resources, or Yupro, and its parent company, Year Up, call “Opportunity Talent” — which includes BIPOC, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community and other historically excluded and economically marginalized groups with limited or no access to career resources or economic mobility based on their environment or zip code.
Yupro is addressing the experience gap and creating jobs for early-career Opportunity Talent through a high-support six-month apprenticeship program to solve for their clients’ DE&I hiring initiatives and today’s skills gap for entry-level talent.
“We partner with and source our talent exclusively from mission-aligned nonprofit training providers,” Sims says. “Yupro is a unique program extension for nonprofits needing career readiness and job placement services for their program completers.”
Sims joined Yupro as CEO in March 2020, a mere 12 days before the pandemic hit — a pandemic that affected her target talent pool more severely than other demographics. Raised as a latchkey child of a single mother and having been a single mom herself, Sims has deep empathy for the plight Opportunity Talent face.
Sims is driven to ensure people have opportunity regardless of where their background and circumstances are. She shares, “I have a heart for ensuring folks have access to employment and are treated well on the job. And now I have the privilege to lead an organization that impacts lives deeply and drives social change.”
While Sims seeks to effect change one placement at a time, she is proud to have moved the needle within Yupro as well, having created an organization that relates more to their talent. When she joined, 90% of the organization identified as white. Now, 50% of the company identifies as a minority or ethnic group.
Sims is also committed to wage equity and discloses all salary ranges for each position to the entire organization. She commits to less than a 10% pay range between current and newly hired employees so that all staff, regardless of tenure, are paid current market wages. Yupro takes this same approach to clients, requiring all talent placements are at a fair market wage.
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