The education and tech training nonprofit Hopeworks, an NJBIA member that has flourished in Camden for more than 20 years, recently expanded by opening a new location in Philadelphia.
The nonprofit received a $600,000 investment from the GreenLight Fund Philadelphia and coalition of partners to open the new Hopeworks facility in the heart of the city’s Kensington section. There the nonprofit is training people aged 17 to 26 for tech jobs while continuing its partnerships with potential employers to help young people obtain well-paying jobs.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to invest in the futures of bright and talented individuals in the Philadelphia community,” said Hopeworks Executive Director Dan Rhoton. “As tech continues to take off in the city, we hope to help those who may not have traditionally been included lead the way. And, none of this would be possible without the backing of our amazing partners.”
GreenLight led a yearlong process with its Selection Advisory Council, a diverse group of community leaders and experts, to identify and respond to priority unmet needs in the Philadelphia community. Access to devices, internet connectivity and equitable pathways to training and employment in tech fields were identified as opportunities to improve outcomes.
After thoroughly evaluating dozens of programs across the country, GreenLight selected Hopeworks based on its proven record of success with young people. In Camden, 85% of Hopeworks participants secure well-paying jobs at the end of their work experience with Hopeworks, a 12-month retention rate of almost 90%, and earnings of over $43,000 annually.
Hopeworks provides participants with professional training and internship opportunities. Once completed, participants have the opportunity to work in one of Hopeworks’ social enterprises: Web Design, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), or the Youth Healing Team which provides trauma informed consulting services to local businesses.
Participating businesses, such as American Water and Comcast, help generate jobs that lead to high-wage, permanent opportunities for youth in a growing tech industry. In Philadelphia, Hopeworks is poised to serve up to 50 participants in its first operational year, with plans to expand to help more than 100 participants annually afterward.
“As a longtime partner in their work in Camden, we are thrilled to support Hopeworks’ expansion to the City of Philadelphia,” said Gwyneth Gaul, associate vice president of Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy at Comcast. “Hopeworks has a proven model based on skill development, real-world job experience, and trauma-informed care that helps to propel young adults into sustainable wage careers.”
In addition to the GreenLight Fund, Hopeworks’ scale to Philadelphia is backed by a coalition of local funders and supporters, including Comcast, JP Morgan Chase, the NBA Foundation, the Connelly Foundation, and Dell Technologies.
The generous support from major partners created the new tech learning and development hub in Philadelphia, including office space, critical equipment and programs for individuals involved. In addition, Hopeworks’ partners will continue to provide networking and employment opportunities for the nonprofit’s graduates.
“Hopeworks’ program is designed to work with young professionals who are traditionally the hardest to reach, serving as a crucial addition to Philadelphia’s tech pipeline,” said GreenLight Executive Director Felicia Rinier.
“Many of Hopeworks’ participants are faced with housing instability, food insecurity, and some have not completed high school,” Rinier said. “While these factors would often make it harder to succeed in tech training programs, Hopeworks opens their doors to these individuals, offers wrap-around services and remains committed to their success, no matter what.”
For more information about Hopeworks, including donating or volunteering, go here.