Making Non-Profits Work
Gerald Chertavian is the CEO and Founder of Year Up, a non-profit organization that provides intensive professional education to urban young adults. His organization was recently recognized by Fast Company and The Monitor Group as one of the top 25 organizations in the nation using business excellence to engineer social change. Prior to starting Year Up, Chertavian co-founded Conduit Communications and served as the head of marketing at Transnational Financial Services in London. He has been an active member of the Big Brother mentoring program since 1985, and was awarded New York’s outstanding member in 1989. He was also awarded the 2003 Social Entrepreneurship Award by the Manhattan Institute and the 2005 Freedom House Archie R. Williams, Jr. Technology Award. A graduate of Bowdoin College and Harvard Business School, Chertavian was born and raised in Lowell, MA.
Gerald Chertavian: Absolutely. In fact, I think the whole movement of social entrepreneurship, which is about applying business principles to the nonprofit sector, it's solving social challenges in innovative ways and perhaps ways that weren't solved before. It's about what we call a tripartite partnership between the nonprofit sector, the private sector and the public sector, which is a new way -- it's a new social contract -- in terms of how we're going to solve social challenges in this country. And that is very different from the '60s and '70s, when government would scale up a nonprofit organization and have the resources to do that. So I think we're really in a paradigm shift as to how we collectively are going to solve social challenges in this country and who has skin in that game. And it's not just the government, it's not just the nonprofit sector and it's not just the private sector. Those three sectors have to work together differently than they have in the past. And I think many of the social entrepreneurs that I know and respect think about solving challenges in ways that really reflect that need to partner with those three legs of that stool.
Question: How do partnerships distinguish your organization from others?
Gerald Chertavian: There's a few ways I think we're very different from other organizations, the first of which is, we focus incessantly on what I call ABC -- attitude, behavior and communication skills. And that we know that employers -- that you hire for skills and you fire for behavior, right, when you think about how the labor force works? So we spend at least half of our time focused very, very clearly on making sure our young adults have the attitudinal, behavioral and communication skills they need to be professionals in the knowledge-based economy. Many training programs and often schools focus on just a skill or a kind of work competency. That's only half the equation. So yes, half of our time will be focused on a technical skill or a financial skill, something that will be kind of bought by the private sector. But half of our time is on ABC -- attitude, behavior and communications. So that's one big difference between ourselves and others.
A second difference is, we are so driven by the needs of our corporate and organizational partners, where -- and if you think about our economic model, you know, we receive contributions from those organizations. If we don't do well, we do not get paid. If we don't get paid, we go out of business. So our economic incentives are wholly aligned with success for our students. If students do well, we stay in business. And let me ask you: how many nonprofits is the payor the same person who's the recipient of the service? And I think that disconnect often means that the person you're providing the service to, you don't have to be beholden to them because they're not the payer. Whereas in our case we have clients; they're called companies. And if they're not happy, we're not in business.
So I think having aligned economic incentives as a general principle -- if one wants think about it in the nonprofit sector as to how do I better align those incentives to make sure that the work we're doing is -- we are rewarded for results, we are rewarded for outcomes, and we're not rewarded for efforts, which many, many organizations are rewarded for trying. Oh, in the private sector it would have been great if someone paid me to try to build software. But we got paid when we actually -- they flicked the switch and the software worked. In the nonprofit sector I think equally we should be held accountable to those standards, where we are paid, remunerated or given money when we actually generate results for those we serve, have proven outcomes, and are not paid just to try to do something. So I think those are kind of two very fundamental things different to us in terms of the ways in which we serve our students and the ways in which we work with our corporate partners and the way we serve them.
Question: What is the most significant barrier to success for low-income youth?
Gerald Chertavian: Well, unfortunately, many of our young adults were born on the wrong side of the opportunity divide. And that's unfortunate, and it's wrong, and it limits their potential. So right now we live in a country where if you were born in the wrong ZIP code, if you had the wrong education system, if your parents had the wrong bank balance, and if you're a person of color, you were born on the wrong side of the opportunity divide in this country. Now you and I both know that those are not good reasons to prevent a young person from being successful. But I can absolutely guarantee, having worked in this for a decade and worked with several thousand young people, is, given the appropriate opportunity, setting very challenging standards, and then supporting people to achieve those standards, that the young adults we serve can literally achieve anything they set their minds to. And I've seen that time and time again. So the barriers are as much about context as they are about anything inherently wrong or challenging in the individual themselves.
So, you know, if you say go a little bit deeper, you know, our young adults don't grow up in neighborhoods where they have role models, so other adults working in our knowledge-based economy, that they can look to. Remember, 20 years ago you could look to someone in an urban community who had a blue collar job who was solidly in the middle class. The number of those jobs has dwindled, as we all know, as our manufacturing sector has shrunk, so that -- do I have the role models of the technician, the technical administrator? Do I have the role models of someone working in a professional services firm or professional firm? So you have a lack of role models. You have, unfortunately, a K-12 educational system where the requirements to graduate are not the requirements to be college and career-ready. So if you want young adults who are college and career-ready, our K-12 system right now does not have that as its standard. So often our young adults are going to public schools whereby even when they graduate they're not prepared to go to college or to earn more than minimum wage. So I think that's one challenge as well.
And I think the third -- if you think of why is this happening -- is our businesses today don't look at the young adults that we serve -- who tend to be low-income, eighteen to twenty-four, ninety-eight percent of color -- they're not looking at those young adults as talent. So when you think about who's talented in this country, and where talent resides in this country, many of our businesses are not looking right within their own communities to those young adults as a source of talent. In fact, on the reverse, many of those organizations and/or individuals may see our young adults as deficits, as liabilities, rather than assets. So you also have some perception changes that really need to go on to enable those young adults to realize the God-given potential that they have.
Recorded on: October 29, 2009
If the social entrepreneurship movement is going to be successful, an entirely new social contract will need to be forged between the private and public sectors. As the work of Gerald Chertavian demonstrates, these innovative partnerships may eventually solve some of our oldest problems.
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- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
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- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
Yet 80 percent of respondents want to reduce their risk of dementia.
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Credit: logika600 / Shutterstock<p>Remaining healthy requires regular screenings. Here again we see a disassociation between risk reduction and proactivity. Seventy-seven percent of respondents don't talk to their doctors about lifestyle habits that support brain health; 51 percent have never been screened for depression; 44 percent have never had a neurological exam; and 32 percent have never been screened for hearing problems. </p><p>Common early warning signs of dementia, <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/americans-worry-alzheimers-disease-survey-140644803.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">according to</a> Dr. Jason Karlawish, co-director of the Penn Memory Center, include repetitive questions and stories, difficulties with complex daily tasks, and trouble with orientation. </p><p>In terms of intervention, <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/does-lack-of-exercise-lead-to-dementia" target="_self">exercise</a>, <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/obesity-dementia" target="_self">diet</a>, building a <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/brain-reserve" target="_self">brain reserve</a>, and challenging your brain (such as learning a new language or musical instrument) are all proven methods for staving off the ravages of Alzheimer's. Oxytocin has also <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/alzheimers-oxytocin" target="_self">showed promise</a> in brain-addled mice, while researchers found positive results for a <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/intermittent-fasting" target="_self">group of intermittent fasters</a> in promoting neurogenesis. </p><p>Epidemiologist Bryan James says that dementia is <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/04/15/176920391/how-exercise-and-other-activities-beat-back-dementia" target="_blank">not an inevitable result</a> of aging. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It's simply not pre-destined for all human beings. Lots of people live into their 90s and even 100s with no symptoms of dementia." </p><p>Professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, Andrew Budson, <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/americans-worry-alzheimers-disease-survey-140644803.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recommends</a> aerobic exercise and the Mediterranean diet. As has long been known, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and healthy fasts like nuts and olive oil seem to have brain-boosting properties. </p><p>To learn more, take the <a href="https://www.mdvip.com/brain-health-iq-quiz" target="_blank">Brain Health IQ quiz</a>.</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>