Youth Building Assets for a Viable Future

About Us

Our History


Inspired by Katherine Newman's book No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City, Edith developed the original strategic plan for WorkUp to address the many needs of the young working poor in Washington, DC. She was soon joined by Ruth, a teacher at a charter school for children with special needs, and Caitlin, a financial management consultant at a Fortune 500 company. The three had the same love for youth but brought ideas together from vastly different professional backgrounds. The vision of WorkUp was born from these early connections.


Early in the year, Edith ran into a former-teacher-turned-finance-professional who gave her a life-changing piece of advice: "You don't have to do everything all at once. You just need to start doing something now." Those words caused WorkUp to become a real presence in the DC community.

  • We won Razoo's very first "speed granting" competition that funded the pilot of our financial literacy workshops.
  • We placed in the Top 25 Projects in American Express's first MembersProject competition.
  • We provided financial education to young adults as part of the Summer Youth Employment Program sponsored by the DC Mayor's Office.
  • We supported young adults from southeast DC with seed funding and assistance to run a social enterprise, the "Youth Peppermint Bark Business Venture", which benefited both their immediate neighborhood and an impoverished region of Nicaragua.


Edith, Caitlin, and Ruth found ourselves living in three different cities – New York, San Diego, and Washington, DC – dedicated as ever to investing in youth but unsure of the future of WorkUp since we were spread across the country. Because of the relationships we had built in our communities, WorkUp ended up expanding more than we could have imagined.

  • We provided financial literacy workshops to DC residents who lived east of the Anacostia River.
  • We helped youth run their Second Annual Youth Peppermint Bark Business Venture, bringing in twice as much revenue as the previous year, to benefit both youth in DC and human trafficking victims in New York.
  • We volunteered at various organizations in New York – at tax preparation, ESL, college preparation, and youth development programs – to learn about local needs, quality programs, and community resources.

In the middle of the year, Edith reconnected with Samuel, an acquaintance from her AmeriCorps service year, and the two rediscovered their common interest – and different experiences – in workforce development. With his expertise and years of community organizing experience in Los Angeles, Samuel built the foundation of WorkUp LA in a matter of weeks.

  • We are working with various neighborhood organizations in DC, LA, and NYC to provide WorkUp's youth with high-quality supports that address and overcome the specific challenges of each local community.
  • We have secured national partnerships with Ashoka's Youth Venture and World Vision U.S. Programs to connect our youth cohorts to other communities so that they can inspire change both locally and globally.

WorkUp ended 2008 poised to continue its work in DC and to launch in New York City and in Los Angeles in early 2009. Our brief history traces WorkUp's growth from a local initiative to a national collaborative. It reveals how the crossing of four very different individuals through each others' lives can lead us to beyond what is possible by ourselves. We invite you to join us in our work as the rest of our journey unfolds!

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