Hopeworks Camden

Organizational mission statement (50 words or less): 

With a focus on education, technology, and entrepreneurship, Hopeworks provides a positive, healing atmosphere that propels young people to build strong futures and break the cycle of violence and poverty in Camden, New Jersey.  We connect youth to life-changing opportunities where their growing technology skills go to work for enterprising businesses within our community.

Brief description of organization (include key programs and recent achievements, 100 words or less):

Hopeworks is a social enterprise that uses technology, healing, and entrepreneurship to transform lives; on average, youth (aged 17-26) entering Hopeworks make $898 annually.  Youth completing the Hopeworks program make, on average, $36,869 annually, with a 90% 12-month retention rate in their jobs.  That is the Hopeworks difference.
Our unique trauma-informed approach, combined with high-demand, high wage technical training and paid work experience helps build young people who can not only get the job, but keep it, transforming their lives and the lives of their families.

 

Population served (25 words or less):

Hopeworks works with youth 17-26 that other organizations deem “unemployable”, ”not ready,” or “too difficult” – youth that have often experienced high levels of adversity.

Geographic area(s) served: 

Hopeworks works with youth from Camden, Philadelphia, and surrounding counties.

In which Life Science Cares Area of Focus is your organization’s work primarily? 

Economic Sustainability

 

Does the organization already receive support from or otherwise engage life science companies? If so, how?

 

Hopeworks is proud to partner with several Life Science companies, including our employment partnership with Cooper Hospital, the Camden Health Careers Initiative, and our on-going partnership with the Coriell Institute providing mentorship and professional guidance to our young people. In addition, we partnered with Neuroflow for a mental health focused hackathon, and we are also proud to have a long-standing partnership with Elsevier, a leader in medical publishing and documentation. 

Please outline existing volunteer opportunities or programs & initiatives that harness human capital including any current virtual volunteer events:

Hopeworks offers a wide variety of ways to help our youth transform their lives, all of which have pivoted to a virtual format. They include:  Chat & Chew A one hour virtual session and an opportunity for volunteers to share their expertise about their career and career journey with our young people.  Youth really appreciate the chance to learn about professions they could pursue, appreciate the gift of volunteers’ time and experience.  Mock Interview Sessions Volunteers conduct mock interviews and provide feedback as practice for our youth. Interviews can take place at Hopeworks, off site (at a location accessible by public transportation), or via video or teleconference.  Financial Coaching Meet with youth every other week to discuss financial goals, address progress, and offer advice about financial matters.  Board and Committee Membership Become a board member or committee member on one of our committees: Financial, Events or Development  Academic Success Volunteer Volunteers meet regularly to tutor or assist youth with testing, school assignments, ACT/SAT prep, and other academic needs.  Mentorship Program For 1 year, a mentor volunteer meets with their mentee 4 hours a month to discuss future goals. Help our youth reach their dreams by setting financial and professional goals.

 

Please outline proposed or potential future volunteer opportunities or programs & initiatives that harness human capital including any planned virtual volunteer events:  

When dealing with companies with specialized expertise, Hopeworks prefers to develop customized programming that allows those companies to really have an impact. For example, Hopeworks worked with SEER, a digital marketing company, to develop a customized training program in analytics and SEO for our young people based on their industry expertise. We also worked with TD Bank’s IT department to develop an a specialized “Agile for Life” program to help both our youth and our employees learn key project management skills. We have worked with EPAM, American Water, Cooper Hospital, Subaru, and others to develop specialized employment and training pathways to make an impact with our youth. We have worked with Elsevier to develop special one-day mock interview and clothing drive events that are rewarding both for Hopeworks youth and Elsevier employees. When Hopeworks encounters a company with interest, energy, and skill, we work hard to create a custom experience to leverage each company’s individual assets.

GRANT REQUEST 

 

Please signify the type of support you are requesting from Life Science Cares:

Programming (new or expanded)

 

Project Title:

 

Surviving to Thriving – Recovery from COVID-19

 

Total Project Budget (if applicable):

 

$308,969

 

Requested Amount:

 

$10,000

 

In which Life Science Cares Area of Focus is the requested project’s work?

 

Economic Sustainability

 

Description of Need (What is the issue you plan to address? What are the demographics and number of people you plan to serve, if applicable?):

Hopeworks works to move individuals out of poverty and into economic sustainability with a unique combination of technical training, real business experience, and trauma-informed coaching and academic counseling.  It works. On average, youth entering Hopeworks make $898 annually.  Youth completing the Hopeworks program make, on average, $37,869 annually. Even more importantly, our work moves young people out of low-wage, high-risk occupations that are vulnerable to layoffs in our new COVID-19 economy. As of October 31st, 89.8% of our alumni placed 12 months ago were still employed , even after historical layoffs across the country.

 

Our youth are typically 17-26. 48% of youth identify as Black and 41% identify as Latinix. Approximately 20% of our youth identify as LGBTQ+. One thing almost all of youth have in common is a desire to change their current situation. Many of our youth are experiencing homelessness, have involvement with the foster care or justice systems, and are typically supporting themselves and their siblings on their own.

 

Specific Activities (Please detail what activities you intend to undertake as a result of the grant. Include information about service delivery and timelines.):

The funds from LSC will be used to expand our Recode Your Future Program and adapt it to the changing needs of our community as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Hopeworks transformative work in moving young people and communities out of poverty has always had a dramatic impact, this moment in time -- a unique combination of economic dislocation, the virtualization of work, and growing awareness of racial disparities -- means this is an opportunity to truly make change for communities like Camden.

Even in normal times, Hopeworks works in a way few other programs do.

 

Hopeworks is solving the problem of young people that other organizations deem “unemployable”, ”not ready,” or “too difficult” – youth who have been failed by the educational system and social system, and who are left out of the growing economy. 

The challenges and opportunities of now, however, present a unique opportunity. Even as our communities are decimated by massive layoffs, Hopeworks alumni, as of October 31st, have kept an almost 90% 12-month job retention rate. Our youth have successfully moved up the ladder and entered the group of high skill remote workers who will keep their jobs during this pandemic and in the new world after. On average, youth entering Hopeworks make $898 annually.  Youth completing the Hopeworks program make, on average, $37,869 annually. Even more importantly, our work moves young people out of low-wage, high-risk occupations that are vulnerable to layoffs in our new COVID-19 economy.

In the last three months, Hopeworks placed over 34 young people in full time, permanent positions, many of them with Life Science Partners, including Cooper Hospital!

With the support of LSC, Hopeworks can make the investments needed to expand our training and job placement program to help more young people, and more communities, when they need it the most while simultaneously helping employers get the motivated, technically skilled remote workers that they need.

Evaluation (What are the anticipated results? What methods will you use to measure your progress? What does success look like?):

At Hopeworks, we hold ourselves accountable to the promises that we have made to our young people and communities.

 

We use a customized version of a CRM software called Salesforce.com to help us track the participants, programs and performance of our organization. It is a valuable tool that helps us quantify our experiences and enhance our ability to help youth help themselves.  It also allows us to give our partners and donors an accurate report of our stewardship of their time, talent and treasure.  

 

Key Performance Indicators for Hopeworks’ success include:

  • Permanent jobs earned

  • Permanent job retention (12+ months)

  • Starting wage

  • Increase in income

  • High School credentials earned

  • Math score increases (measured by the TABE test)

  • Reading score increases (measured by the TABE test)

  • College enrollment

  • College credits pass rate

 

Each month, we make sure to report to all of our youth and stakeholders and supporters on the progress we are making on these goals. Our Monthly Operations Snapshot goes out to everyone in the Hopeworks community, including, of course, our youth!

 

You can see October’s Operations Snapshot here.

 

Does this project already have support from life science companies? If so, what is the nature of that support?

We are honored to have the support of multiple life science companies to help us deliver on our mission. Just a few examples include:

  • Cooper Health Careers Initiative: This innovative program trains youth at Hopeworks for Careers at Cooper in Medical Coding, Patient Navigation, and, thanks to a soon to be unveiled expansion, EMT certificate roles.

  • Coriell Institute: Coriell Institute provides Hopeworks with mentors, career advice through our chat and chews, and mock interviews for our young people.

  • Spark Therapeutics: This new partnership is providing Spark with a way for their employees to give back and support our young people, and giving Hopeworks access to some of the brightest medical minds in the region – and world!

  • Neuroflow: Hopeworks was honored to work with Neuroflow at our recent hackathon, hacking solutions for the epidemic of gun violence in our region.

 

EFFECTIVENESS, COLLABORATION, INNOVATION

Is there any other information not captured elsewhere regarding your organization, project, program or initiatives that you believe will help the Life Science Cares team in evaluating your request?

Hopeworks has recently been featured in some media and created some videos that may help the LSC team have a better understanding of how Hopeworks has adjusted our programming during COVID. We have included some of those links below:

 

How does your organization or program differentiate from other organizations doing similar work? Are you executing or proposing to executive an innovation in program or service?

 

Three key things make what Hopeworks is doing different.

 

First, Hopeworks -- in our practice, results, and daily activities -- is accountable to our young people in delivering on our promises.. By earning our own money in our social enterprises, Hopeworks is able to continually pivot our work to make sure of only one thing -- that we are delivering on our promise of transformative employment for our young people. Much like a startup or for-profit enterprise, Hopeworks is not tied to one outmoded way of doing things. Instead, Hopeworks is tied to whether or not we are delivering results for our young people and keeping our promise to our communities, and is able to pivot quickly to achieve maximum results.

 

Second, Hopeworks, as a social enterprise rather than a traditional nonprofit, is closely tied into the local, regional, and global job market not just as a training or service provider, but as an active participant in the commercial economy. We don’t just train youth, but also provide services to companies around the globe. Unlike traditional schools or nonprofits, we are actively providing services in the market, and competing against other for-profit businesses for market share. This means that our staff is a unique mix of nonprofit professionals, technology professionals, and sales and business professionals that give Hopeworks unique insight into both the market and how best to prepare our young people to successfully compete in that market.

 

Finally, as a digital organization, Hopeworks and our youth are uniquely positioned to turn the current COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity for transformative change. Even as our communities are decimated by massive layoffs, Hopeworks alumni, as of October 31st, have kept an almost 90% job retention rate. Our youth have successfully moved up the ladder and entered the group of high skill remote workers who will keep their jobs during this pandemic and in the new world after.