In In the community, PDA Stories, News & Events

Year Up empowers low-income young adults to go from poverty to professional careers in a single year.

PDA member, Dave Lewis, was invited to speak to a group at Year Up because of the success that he has worked hard to achieve in business. Dave’s journey demonstrates the type of determination, passion, and excellence that is standard, and valued, in the Packaging Distributors of America community.  Read Dave’s account of his experience at Year Up below.



From PDA Member, Dave Lewis, IPC:


ipc-logoAt the end of September I had the honor of speaking to over 125 under- privileged urban youth at the program they attend called YearUP. My presentation was on being focused, being determined and how that can lead to much success in corporate America. I basically shared my life’s journey, my highs and lows and my view on what it takes to be successful.


YearUp is a non-profit organization started in the Boston market in 2000 and now has served over 10,000 students across the United States. They developed a program that serves the very best, brightest and most determined under privileged youth.  The process involves an interview to narrow the applicants and find the top candidates for the program, as its benefits have attracted an overwhelming number of applicants. In Atlanta alone YearUp had over 2000 applicants for this class and 125 were accepted into the program.


These students are taught the skills necessary to add value to the corporate world through a six month accountability and skills program. They are monitored daily in regards to promptness, completion of tasks assigned, mannerisms, dress, etc. YearUp is unique in that it provides clothing closets that students can utilize to assure they have access to clothing that reflect a professional demeanor.  Before participants can move on to the more advanced phase two, they have to complete an all-encompassing phase 1 program.


year-up-logoIn Phase two, those that graduate are teamed with a corporate partner to enter a six month internship program in which Year Up is always involved in ensuring the candidates’ success.  Students check in weekly with YearUp to review progress and to help answer challenges. At the completion of the internship the corporate partner can hire the student or the student may choose to go another path but either way the student is ready to be a positive impact on our community.




In my shy and introverted way, I met one of their corporate development folks on a flight to Chicago back in August. After talking about the type of grit and determination the youth that are selected to enter the YearUp program, I shared that the packaging industry needs just that: Youth that don’t feel entitled but understand that hard work and determination generates success.


It’s ironic that I agreed to present to their current class of student’s as a means of giving back to our community. I left so impressed, moved, grateful and excited about what I witnessed and how we may be able to work together. It truly felt as if the YearUp students were giving to me, not the other way around.

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