The Mission Continues
Veterans returning home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are navigating a maze of government services as they confront the challenges of reintegrating into civilian life. The Mission Continues is reenvisioning that transition, driven by the insight that many veterans want to continue to serve. The St. Louis-based nonprofit, founded by former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, places veterans in six-month fellowships with nonprofit agencies such as the YMCA and the American Red Cross. The program not only gives participants critical preparation for college, trade schools, and full employment; it also injects veterans who are feeling adrift with a sense of purpose.
Young people working in low-wage jobs often face a dearth of options to improve their prospects and earnings. Enter Year Up, an innovative nonprofit based in Boston that presents a compelling alternative to community college. The program places young people with a high school diploma or GED into a one-year, intensive-training program that includes a weekly stipend. For the first six months, students learn technical and professional skills in a full-time classroom setting. In the second half of the program, they complete an internship with one of Year Up’s corporate or government partners. Fully 84 percent of Year Up graduates are employed, earning an average of $30,000 a year, or attending college full-time four months after completing the program.
Purpose Built Communities
Purpose Built Communities stands at the forefront of programs based on the belief that distressed neighborhoods need integrated responses that deal simultaneously with their many challenges. The Atlanta nonprofit partners with communities that embrace a holistic approach, based on three strategies: building high-quality mixed-income housing; creating quality cradle-to-college education options; and generating services and facilities that assist low-income families and attract middle-income residents. The group honed its model in the East Lake neighborhood in Atlanta, which in the mid-1990s was a veritable war zone. Today, violent crime is down 95 percent, property values are up, and a charter elementary school is one of the highest performing in the city. Purpose Built Communities is now working to replicate those results in eight more cities.
A decade ago, the founders of this national nonprofit recognized that principals in elementary and secondary schools have tremendous potential to affect student performance. But oddly enough, there was no pipeline for training future administrators. New Leaders stepped into the void, developing a program that identifies promising educators through an application process and places them in a one-year residency, where they receive hands-on training from veteran principals. Participants then fill open principal positions in partner schools, committing to at least five years on the job. The New York-based program is now operating in 12 urban areas and has trained 800 principals who are supervising a quarter-million students.
See the finalists in each category: Digital Innovation | Expanding Exports | Workforce Training | Health Care | Financing Infrastructure | Disrupting Government | Regional Economic Strategies | Education | Energy