Hopeworks Chosen by the NBA for a $300,000 “Capacity-Boosting” Grant
In August 2021, Hopeworks received a $300,000 grant from the National Basketball Association (NBA) Foundation. Hopeworks was one of 22 organizations—and the only one in the Philadelphia area—chosen to receive funding during the NBA Foundation’s third round of grantmaking.
Hopeworks Executive Director Dan Rhoton said he was “most excited about young people at Hopeworks finding out that the NBA is supporting them. It’s one thing when you know you are working hard and you’re changing your life. But when the NBA, the National Basketball Association, is saying ‘Great job, everyone at Hopeworks . . . I think our young people are taking that in and thinking, ‘I am doing amazing stuff!’”
Dan said Hopeworks will use the money this year and next to set up the infrastructure to support rapid growth. “This is the kind of support we need to move from placing 100 young people in jobs, to 140 young people in jobs this year, to more and more over the next two to three years.” To accomplish that, Hopeworks will expand its career readiness department along with its core businesses—Web Design & Development, GIS Services, and the Youth Healing Team’s trauma-informed trainings. “All of these are essential to young people’s success, and [the expansion] will make us more sustainable, too.”
The $300,000 Hopeworks grant is part of the $6 million that the NBA Foundation has dispersed this year alone, in its third round of grant making. Grants in this round are focused on increasing “employment opportunities, furthering career advancement, and driving greater economic empowerment for Black Youth,” according to the NBA Foundation.
The Foundation arose out of the 2020 social justice movement that emerged in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. In August of that year, NBA team owners came together and pledged $300 million over the next 10 years. Its goal: “To drive economic opportunity in the Black community through employment and career development by funding programs that generate successful transitions from school to meaningful employment for Black youth.” More specifically, the Foundation set its sights on programs that foster job readiness and skill development, provide job placement, and assist with career advancement.
And that’s exactly what Hopeworks does. It was chosen because its mission—and record—align perfectly with those goals. “The NBA is really focused on generating wealth for Black communities,” said Dan. “There are a lot of good programs in this area, but when you take someone who is basically unemployed and you place them in a $40,000 a year job—that’s how you get wealth.” Fortunately, the Philadelphia 76ers, who have a training center and corporate offices in Camden, knew about Hopeworks’ track record in this arena. So when the NBA Foundation came scouting organizations, the 76ers introduced the Foundation to Hopeworks.
And that’s when the magic happened.
“Kudos to the NBA,” said Dan. “They have lots of ways they could have done this. They could have given away money for sneakers or basketball classes but they made the commitment to changing the status quo. It’s an honor to be part of that.”
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