Hopeworks, a Camden-based tech education and training nonprofit, is expanding to a bigger headquarters that will allow it to serve even more young adults in the Southern New Jersey and Greater Philadelphia regions.
In addition to functioning as a new corporate home, the 13,000-square-foot space at 808 Market St. includes dedicated training centers for two teams: web design and geographic information systems (GIS).
A venture that blends technology, healing and entrepreneurship to transform lives, Hopeworks says its approach is helping to build a workforce that can not only get the job, but keep it. After receiving professional training from the organization, participants have the opportunity to work in one of three social enterprises: web design, GIS or with a training team that provides consulting services to local businesses, like American Water and Comcast.
Founded in 2000, Hopeworks has helped secure jobs for more than 1,000 web designers, GIS analysts and other professionals — most of them young people of color.
Most recently, young adults training at Hopeworks built a community-focused website, My Downtown Camden, in partnership with the Camden Special Services District, as a way to highlight local small businesses and the arts community. The user-friendly tool includes resources, such as event listings, a business directory, maps of restaurants and other interactive features.
According to the organization, the unique combination has led to extraordinary results, with more than 85% of youth associates earning high-wage jobs at the end of their work experience with Hopeworks, as well as a 12-month retention rate of almost 90% in those positions.
Young professionals entering Hopeworks typically earn an average of $400 per year; after going through the training program, they have the opportunity to make a livable and comfortable wage, earning more than $41,000 annually, the nonprofit said.
Last December, Hopeworks opened a new hub in Kensington with the goal of training and placing 60 participants in its first year. So far, the organization has linked over 63 young adults with high-wage jobs.
Lawrence Burden, senior director of career programing at Hopeworks, said, “We have 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 – and it works.”
“We have sustained a positive presence in Camden for so long and by expanding, we are providing more opportunities for young adults – and the community at large – to participate in professional training, internships and real-world business experiences. We are helping those who may not have been included traditionally,” Burden said.