YEOC Turns 15

Young Executives of Color pipeline program opens more and more doors for underrepresented students

Young Executives of Color (YEOC) is nearly as old as the students it serves. Founded in 2006, the Foster School’s nine-month pipeline program provides high school students from underrepresented communities with life-changing introductions to business careers, professional development, college preparation and mentoring.

Over the past 15 years, more than 160 mentors and 1,300 students have graduated from YEOC—at a 99% college-enrollment rate (the lion’s share attending the UW and Foster). Of this year’s cohort of 190 students, hailing from 70 different high schools as far away as Yakima, 78 percent will be the first generation of their families to achieve higher education.

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“YEOC is a transformative thing,” says program manager Damariz Ibáñez. “It is a vital center and needed space for BIPOC students. But I would love to see YEOC transcend being needed as a facet of DEI commitments, because it’s a great community that everyone should look to be a part of. We’ve created such a model in this program that I can envision it becoming a replicable approach for other schools, businesses and institutions.”

Toward achieving greater diversity, equity and inclusion in our institutions and organizations, she adds: “The momentum of this past year can take us further. It’s easy to talk the talk, but walking the walk takes real engagement, and real care. To just create a space for students in underserved communities is to carve out a better path. I’m excited for Foster and our partners to continue down that path.”

Excerpted from a Q&A with YEOC program manager Damariz Ibáñez in August. Read the entire conversation with Max Weinstein-Bacal on the Foster Blog.

Ed Kromer Managing Editor Foster School

Ed Kromer is the managing editor of Foster Business magazine. Over the past two decades, he has served as the school’s senior storyteller, writing about a wide array people, programs, insights and innovations that power the Foster School community.