City Year and Ulink

Attending community college was the best decision I ever made. It gave me the vital opportunity to continue my education at a low cost and to improve my academic record after years away from school. Moreover, I built relationships that pushed me to successfully transition to Tufts University to finish my degree.

Unfortunately, not all of my peers transferring from community college are as fortunate as I was. Today, 45 percent of the students enrolled in postsecondary education are in community college.  Of the 81 percent of entering community college students who indicate they want to continue on to complete a  bachelor's degree or higher, only percent 17 percent earn a bachelor's degree within six years after transferring. I think that's a big problem, particularly because over the next six years over 55 million jobs will require some post secondary degree.

Looking back, I realized my peers were often overwhelmed and did not have the support they needed. I know the community college system can be more effective in helping their students, especially first generation and lower income students, move on to a bachelor’s degree. While at Tufts, I have been working on an exciting idea that aims to alleviate the community college transfer gap through a holistic end-to-end approach. That’s how we came to start ULink.

Since 2014, our idea turned into a social enterprise. We're building and iterating our prototype, piloting at Roxbury Community College, and in September 2015, we were selected to be in the Smarter in the City Accelerator! ULink also won the +Acumen Lean for Social Change competition. In the past year and a half, we've made a ton of progress and have learned a lot along the way, all of which has been truly humbling.

To learn how you can support ULink and our City Year alumni who founded it, visit this website.

Ulink and City Year Alum

Thank you for your consideration and support!

Phillip Ellison, Co-Founder of ULink


Phillip Ellison is a nontraditional Hostos Community College transfer student currently at Tufts University. At Tufts, Phillip is a Tisch Scholar for Active Citizenship and Public Service. Phillip was recently selected for the City Year and Comcast NBC Universal Fellowship for the Millennial Train Project in August 2016.  ULink Co-Founder Parisa Esmaili is an MBA Candidate at the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy at Mills College and is a former community college student. Both are City Year ' ’10 Alumni.


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