Year Up Alumni Close the Opportunity Divide at BIF2015

We love bringing new, curious minds into the BIF Summit’s random collision of unusual suspects. So we are thrilled to have several Year Up alumni join us at the BIF2015 Summit! The Year Up program works to close the opportunity divide between urban youth and corporate America, by providing students with the skills, knowledge, and experience to reach their full professional potential. We asked the Year Up alumni to share their ideas on how to transform challenges within education, government, and healthcare.


Clifton Hutchins
Help Students Find Their Passion
We excel in the world by working in areas where we are talented and passionate. Yet somehow students are expected to just know what profession they’ll aim for by the end of their schooling. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are essential, but more courses in other subjects could help students discover their passion that will sustain a professional career.


Jacqueline Wun-Meen
Understand Student Learning Styles
While all students can learn, they learn best from a teacher who can adapt to the students’ different learning styles. Maybe it would be better for teachers to use approaches that acknowledge students as individuals, not just a group in a class. If teachers and students made more of an effort to learn each other’s personality, lifestyles and behavioral patterns, teaching and learning would be easier, more effective, and more fun.


Alberto Irizarry
Build Blended Learning Environments
We need to use the technology we have in our classrooms to create students a better, more personalized learning experience. Building blended learning environments could help students to overcome steep learning curves. Hopefully, this will indeed be the future of education.



Japhet Nsengiyumva
Transform Financial Aid
Transformation is needed for the college funding process, especially for federal student loans. It’s easy to reach the maximum amount of community college-level credits that make students ineligible for federal loans, especially for students who change majors. Many financial aid counselors do not proactively advise students of the problem until it is too late. That leaves students with no choice but to transfer to a four-year university paid for with private students loans, or leave college short a couple of classes short of earning an Associates’ degree.



Julian Smith
Rethink Higher Education Funding
Money should not determine the right to attend college. Yet it’s unlikely that college costs will drop. So we need more programs to help middle- and working-class families to prepare for funding college for their children. One idea is to start a government-backed savings program called “STEP-UP”: Start investing; Training on annuity; Economic development; Perfect plan to learn; Understand; and Protect your future. The government could match the amounts saved, so the burden of college funding wouldn’t lie completely on either the families or the government.


Victor Rosado
Recreate the Relationship Between the Public and the Police
All law-abiding citizens should feel safe around the police, rather than nervous or scared. There’s too much suspicion on both sides and not enough focus on the common purpose for police, which is to keep people safe. Young urban minority males are particularly vulnerable to brutality from police who misunderstand their actions and motives. Police should spend time learning the communities they serve, coming to understanding the community culture as a whole and the people as individuals.


Jacob C King Jr.
Create Skyscraper Farms
With the current poor state of our climate, natural resources, and agriculture, the government should construct buildings to grow, and sustain the plants we eat. By constructing skyscraper farms, mankind can give rather than take from the earth.This could give our future generations a fighting chance to secure our footprint on this planet.



Darius Strasel
Treat Cancer with Artificial Intelligence-Based Technology
Cancer is not curable, but it is preventable. Using the power of data mining, bioinformatics, genomics, and artificial intelligence, cancer can be predicted before it even metastasizes in the body. This combination of technologies is rarely understood or communicated but the idea has the potential to completely revolutionize the face of healthcare as we know it. With the right leadership and execution, this technology can finally beat cancer and completely change the world we live in.  


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