Location: 808 Market St., 3rd floor, Camden
Serving: Camden and the Greater Philadelphia area
Key members: Dan Rhoton, executive director; Alia Sutton-Bey, director of operations and youth development; Jay Jackson, director of career partnerships; Lindajoy Jackson, director of business
Hopeworks is a social enterprise that uses technology, healing and entrepreneurship to transform the lives of young people and break the cycle of violence and poverty. Hopeworks was founded in 1999 with the goal of offering training to youth without a high school diploma. In March 2000, it opened its doors on State Street to the first trainees as a youth development nonprofit. In 2012, Hopeworks made the decision to become a certified Sanctuary organization to shift its values/priorities/interactions to a “trauma” framework.
Hopeworks’ mission is to provide a positive, healing atmosphere that propels young people to build strong futures and break the cycle of violence and poverty in Camden. Hopeworks connects youth to life-changing opportunities where their growing technology skills go to work for enterprising businesses within our community.
In the past 12 months, Hopeworks has placed over 100 youth in permanent, living-wage jobs, dramatically changing the lives of their young people and their families. In the next two years, Hopeworks is working to more than double that number.
When the pandemic hit the area last March, Hopeworks distributed over 130 laptops to alumni and current students to ease the transition to working remotely, and adopted a hybrid model for its physical offices so people who are unable to work from their homes due to a lack of internet access could retain their jobs. Hopeworks also opened the Burton R. Cohen Technology Center, a coworking office with desk space, high-speed internet, and phone and conference room access, to help a growing number of graduates with remote jobs. In addition, Hopeworks has partnered with more and more tech companies to build talent pipelines to help diversify their workforces.
Hopeworks’ programming consists of:
- Training Program, called “Recode Your Future,” designed for out-of-school youth to participate and gain technology training with job opportunities in a supportive setting.
- Academic Success, where success coaches help Hopeworks youth build and maintain the academic skills they need in order to achieve their goals.
- Career Readiness, a program to empower youth to identify and develop their dreams by meeting with them consistently and working with them to develop a plan for their future.
- CRIB (The Community Responding in Belief) is a residential community for youth who have earned a job at Hopeworks.
- Web Design and Development helps businesses and nonprofits establish and maintain their website, perform data analytics and customize Salesforce to meet their professional needs.
- Geographic Information Systems gives businesses one single, organized and user-friendly view of complex datasets retrieved from siloed systems and or various sources.
- Youth Healing Team is a group of trained young professionals that provide an authentic voice to the trauma information training and professional development they deliver.
Hopeworks raises money through individual donors, corporate and foundation grants, and special events, as well as earning money through its business services.
Hopeworks has support from many local corporate companies such as American Water, Comcast and Campbell Soup, to provide real-world client experience for their youth as they enter the industry. They also provide scalable, sustainable and unrestricted funding to employ youth and help Hopeworks meet its organizational goals.
Hopeworks not only offers tech training to youth, but what the organization really offers is the understanding of how much value young people can and will offer to corporations.