Raise pay and build a diverse tech workforce

Help us close the Opportunity Divide by moving more young people from an average annual wage of under $1,000 to almost $35,000 with technology and healing.

In the last 5 years, Hopeworks has proven that training young people in technical skills, preparing them with professional, social, and emotional skills, and then giving them real-world experience in our web development and data management businesses works. The proof is an over 90% job retention rate after 12 months that moves youth from an average annual income under $1,000 to one of $34,946.

The secret to closing the opportunity divide is engaging young people to solve real business problems and provide valuable technical services to Philadelphia’s growing tech sector.  The regions high youth unemployment is a huge opportunity to solve Philadelphia’s need for qualified workers and to transform the region’s deep poverty rate.

Hopeworks has the youth, the employers, a proven model, and the space.  Now we need investment to grow our business development efforts — providing more jobs for youth — and growing the support infrastructure to make sure youth are ready for those jobs.

What is the Community Need this Addresses?

Hopeworks is solving two of the region’s most serious problems — underemployed youth and a tech sector constrained by a lack of qualified candidates and a lack of diversity. Solving one problem is key to solving the other!

At its core, Hopeworks is solving the problem of young people 17-26 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.

Hopeworks, quite deliberately, does not filter or select youth for our program.  If a young person wants to change his or her life, Hopeworks is ready for them.

Technical training is important; youth need the coding and technical skills to make them employable at high wage occupations.  Even more important, however, is helping our youth develop the social and emotional skills to not just get those high wage jobs, but to keep them.

What is the solution that is currently in place?

Right now, Hopeworks has youth who want to change their lives, employers who want to hire them, and a proven methodology to prepare youth for those opportunities.  We have space and equipment to make it happen.

All we need now is the investment to staff up to meet the demand, grow our businesses to employ youth, expand our coaching team to make the youth work ready, and expand our academic team to make sure they are academically prepared.

We know from our data that those three elements — paid work experience in our social enterprises, trauma-informed life readiness coaching, and academic preparation — leads to exceptionally high success rates in permanent, high wage employment.  By investing in those three areas that we know lead to results, we can dramatically impact more lives and impact the region.

How will a Key to the Community grant help?

The promise of this moment in time is significant.  In the last two years, Hopeworks has been recognized with prestigious awards over half a dozen times.  Multiple Fortune 500 employers are now hiring directly from Hopeworks for tech positions. In addition, many smaller employers are also utilizing Hopeworks to fill their tech needs

Hopeworks has moved into a new, larger facility and now has the physical space to train and employ more youth.  Now, we must scale up our programming to match!

We have the youth.  We have the employers.  We have the model. We have the space.  Now, we just need the additional support to scale our work to have a true regional impact.

Now we need investment to grow our business development efforts — providing more jobs for youth — and grow the support infrastructure to make sure youth are ready for those jobs.

Idea Submitted by:


Hopeworks Camden is a nonprofit that has been working for over 18 years with Camden youth.  Utilizing an advanced training curriculum in website design/development, GIS and Salesforce, Hopeworks works with youth 17-26 to get back in school, earn permanent jobs, and achieve their dreams.

Hopeworks unique combination of technical training, real business experience, and trauma-informed coaching and academic counseling has led to extraordinary results, with over 88% of our youth associates earning high wage jobs at the end of their work experience with Hopeworks, and an over 90% 12-month retention rate at those jobs.

Success for our young people also requires real-world experience.  To provide this experience, Hopeworks runs real businesses, providing technology solutions for businesses in web design, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Salesforce administration that not only helps businesses achieve their goals, but also trains and employs youth into high demand, high wage careers.