Fellow Since 2006
This profile was prepared when Rafael Alvarez was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Rafael Alvarez is reimagining vocational education for our post-industrial society. Rafael understands that many disadvantaged youth are at risk of selling themselves short with high school as their end goal. His idea is to change their outlook and the trajectory of their lives early on by placing them on an upwardly mobile career path. Rafael is convinced that this will happen if students get “that first professional job” and experience success in the corporate world while still in high school. He founded Genesys Works in 2002 to connect the often disparate worlds of education and corporations to provide intensive training and placement for students in technical positions at leading corporations. The students gain knowledge, experience, income, and a network of support while the companies gain highly motivated and trained entry-level employees; boosting company morale by engaging employees in the professional development of young people. The students perform real, value-added services at less cost than what the company would otherwise pay. Rafael encourages companies to invite students back for college internships that could lead to permanent positions. Rafael’s vision is for disadvantaged youth to develop the skills and self-confidence they need to thrive in the economic mainstream. Ultimately, he is transforming the perception of what disadvantaged high school students can do, enabling schools and corporations to work together to prepare them for a successful future; all society benefits from their full participation.