‘Nova alum finds reward in non-profit

Matthew O'Leary

Villanova alumnus Michael Flynn is genuinely interested in familiarizing the University community with what his company is about. Flynn works for City Year, a non-profit organization located in Philadelphia.

City Year is an offshoot of the AmeriCorps national service network, which provides community service through the efforts of its workforce, comprised largely of 17-24 year olds. The organization began in 1988 as the brainchild of two enterprising roommates at Harvard. Their idea was for a program that would maximize the potential of young students in impoverished neighborhoods. Since its founding, it has grown to become a network of 16 sites. The Greater Philadelphia chapter is now operating in its eighth year, and has now become the largest chapter.

Corps members tutor, mentor and support children. He helps them develop their potential and play a more active role in their schools, homes and neighborhoods. In return, corps members receive an educational scholarship, a living stipend and the skills and experiences that will provide them with a competitive advantage for the workplace of the 21st century. It has been a tremendous fit for Flynn.

As an undergraduate, he double majored in marketing and finance. Initially anticipating a career as an investment banker, he has followed a rather different path thus far. While he does not rule out an eventual return to the financial sector, he intends to stay with City Year for another term.

During his college years and even at the time of his graduation in 2003, the job market was a great deal richer than its current state. In the short time since then, he has had to reevaluate his professional aspirations. He believes that City Year is preparing him for any kind of management career while, at the same time, developing people skills that will be universally applicable.

For Flynn, employment at City Year amounts to a labor of love. Having worked the previous year as a paralegal in a law office, he decided that he preferred to involve himself in outreach to those less fortunate. As with all non-profits, the people who work there are not in it for money. In fact, many take significant pay cuts from their previous employer in order to work on something more gratifying.

When asked the most rewarding element of his employment, Flynn responded that it is “energizing to know you’ll be having a positive impact on a kid.” When his corps is out on site, at one school or another, he really enjoys the guidance their presence provides to less-privileged youngsters. The City Year team is comprised of bright, energetic and enthusiastic young people who are united in their desire to effect positive change.

Aside from the pleasure of providing a positive example for children, he particularly enjoys his involvement with society at large. He loves seeing diversity in the city, stressing that it has been a pleasure to work with people from wide backgrounds. Bearing firsthand witness to the ills that afflict the neighborhoods where City Year concentrates its energies has elucidated their plight.

“The problems they encounter at schools has less to do with the money going into the school and more to do with serious social issues,” Flynn says. “The solution is to be there as a role model.”