GreenLight Supports Launch of uAspire in SF Bay Area

By: Chris Loney | Monday, April 29, 2013

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GreenLight Fund brings the best of Boston’s nonprofits to help new communities close the achievement and opportunity gap.

The GreenLight Fund, one of the nation’s leading venture philanthropy firms, has traditionally been a champion of importing innovative social ventures, such as Raising a Reader and Single Stop USA, into the city of Boston. After launching GreenLight Fund Philadelphia and GreenLight Fund San Francisco Bay Area in early 2012 with lead support from the Bank of America Foundation, GreenLight is for the first time exporting two of Boston’s homegrown gems – uAspire (formerly ACCESS) and Year Up – with investment from the federal Social Innovation Fund.

uAspire will receive $1.16M over the next five years to replicate its high impact college affordability advising services to the San Francisco Bay Area.  uAspire Bay Area, opening in the coming year, will be the organization’s second direct service site outside of Massachusetts.

uAspire’s mission is to ensure that all young people have the financial information and resources necessary to find an affordable path to – and through – a postsecondary education. In accomplishing this mission, uAspire partners with schools and community organizations to provide free financial aid advice and advocacy to young people and families to help them overcome the financial barriers to higher education. uAspire currently serves students in every public and charter high school in the cities of Boston, Lawrence, and Springfield, MA. This year, uAspire began operations in five schools in Miami.

GreenLight is investing $1.33M in Year Up over five years to bring its Professional Training Corps (PTC) model to Philadelphia.  Opening this fall, it will be the organization’s eleventh site nationwide and its third PTC site.

Year Up provides urban young adults ages 18-24 with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.  The one-year program combines marketable job skills, professional internships, stipends and college credits and currently serves young adults in ten cities across the country. With support from GreenLight, Year Up aims to help up to 1,200 disconnected young adults over the next five years in Philadelphia enroll in higher education and prepare for and obtain jobs that pay wages that can support them and their families.

“We’re thrilled to have the support of the GreenLight Fund in expanding Year Up’s Professional Training Corps program to Philadelphia,” said Gerald Chertavian, Founder and CEO of Year Up. “We started Year Up in Boston in 2000 and have since helped over 6,000 young adults in the U.S. reach their potential in professional careers and higher education. With the help of the GreenLight Fund, we’ll now be able to provide college access and skills training to young people in Philadelphia.”

uAspire and Year Up were selected based on their strong track records and high potential for impact.  The selection process, which engages community leaders in their respective cities as part of a local Selection Advisory Council (SAC), requires nonprofits to undergo a rigorous application process, due diligence and a final “pitch” to the local SAC.

“We could not be more excited to partner with the GreenLight Fund,” says uAspire CEO Bob Giannino-Racine. “GreenLight has a stellar reputation of engaging local leaders to assess what an urban community needs, and then finding the best solution to fill that need. uAspire is eager to work with young people in California, ensuring they get the information and resources to forge an affordable path to a college degree. We are honored to be chosen by the GreenLight Fund.”

The ability to grow Boston organizations beyond the city limits is the realization of long-held dream for GreenLight’s co-founder and national executive director, Margaret Hall. “After operating in Boston for nearly 10 years, we knew there were innovative nonprofit organizations with tremendous leadership addressing pressing issues that affect many communities.   With our new sites in Philadelphia and the Bay Area, we’re excited to be able to consider the best of what’s working here and serve more children and youth across the country.”

The GreenLight Fund’s $2.5 million investment in uAspire and Year Up is part of its larger Social Innovation Fund Initiative directed toward closing the achievement and opportunity gap for low-income children and youth.  This past July, the GreenLight Fund was one of four intermediaries nationally to be selected for funding through a rigorous, open competitive by the Social Innovation Fund, a federal initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).  GreenLight was awarded $5M nationally to co-invest in programs that increase the scale of community-based solutions that have evidence of real impact in the area of youth development.

About the GreenLight Fund

The GreenLight Fund addresses the critical needs of cities’ low-income children, youth and families by identifying high-performing, innovative nonprofits in other communities and supporting them to expand to the city when they show the results needed to have a significant impact on local needs. Working in Boston since 2003, and Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay area since 2012, GreenLight aims to grow a nationwide network of GreenLight initiatives that learn and work collaboratively to find and spread proven nonprofit solutions that achieve meaningful and measurable impact in our communities on the issues that matter most. Learn more at

About the Corporation for National and Community Service

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and the Social Innovation Fund, and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information about the Corporation, visit

About the Social Innovation Fund

The Social Innovation Fund, an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), positions the federal government to be a catalyst for impact—using public and private resources to find and grow community-based nonprofits with evidence of strong results.  It focuses on overcoming challenges confronting low-income Americans in three areas of priority need: economic opportunity, health, and youth development. To learn more, visit:


Gabrielle King Morse, Chief External Affairs Officer, uAspire  617.778.7195 ext. 102,

Sarah Lassonde, Director of External Affairs, The GreenLight Fund,  (617) 252-2815,

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