Hopeworks and Linode, a Philadelphia-based cloud-hosting company, were recently recognized with a Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2021 “Faces of Philanthropy award for an innovative partnership that opens up a new pathway for Middle-Skill technology jobs for young people. The annual “Faces of Philanthropy”award recognizes collaborations between for-profit and nonprofit organizations that benefit the greater Philadelphia region, and create positive change in the lives of others.
This Hopeworks-Linode venture, now in the pilot phase, will ultimately provide young people with the opportunity to prepare for careers in cloud computing, using Linux servers. These jobs typically offer a starting salary of $55-$65K. That’s significantly higher than the less than $800 average annual salary youth earn before coming to Hopeworks.
The idea for the venture came from Rick Myers, Vice President of Customer Support and Success at Linode. (Myers is on Hopeworks’ Board of Directors). Myers has a full-scale, sophisticated training program in place for new hires in his department at Linode. One of the modules in that training program forms the basis for this collaboration. Myers worked with Erich Smith, Hopeworks Training Room Manager, to customize the curriculum for Hopeworks youth and adapt it to Hopework's own training model. In its present form, the training requires 25 hours, spread out over five weeks.
Significantly, the key trainers will be two Hopeworks interns: Rhys Basov and Kevin Sanchez. They will be fully supported by the Linode training team. Both underwent the training earlier, and are very excited about the prospect of deepening their own expertise with Linux, even as they help train peers.
Rhys said they became interested in Linux because their uncle is a long-time Linux user. They identify themselves as a “designer” and appreciate the myriad of possibilities that Linux opens to them. They are interested in using it to create Magic Mirrors, and in following the lead of Chinese DIY maker Naomi Wu, and experimenting with creating wearable tech.
Kevin pursued the training because Linux sounded “interesting.” Kevin was always aware of it but never knew anyone who had experience with it. Now that they are much more familiar, they are impressed by how secure the Linux operating system is.
“Since Linux is an open-source software, it allows others to constantly update it so that there are no bugs or back doors,” says Kevin. “Since most of the people who use Linux are already very into the tech world, you can only imagine that by having that much oversight, there are fewer chances for there to be weaknesses, bugs, and security breaches. One of the main reasons Linux is primarily used in servers is for that security.”
Hi, my name is Natalie Ortiz, and I was referred to HopeWorks by a friend. Before Hopeworks, I didn't know what I wanted to do in the future. I originally wanted to be a Cosmetologist and gave it a try, but the school was so expensive, I had no other choice but to drop out. After that, I gave a thought to college but never really put my focus there. So I ended up working part-time jobs here and there. Over the years, my mom and family always found that I was good with tech and they constantly told me to find a career in technology. Before Hopeworks, I was thinking of going to college so that I could get work in technology, but then I was told about this unique opportunity that Hopeworks provides for all youths. They told me it was a safe and incredible place to be. My friend helped me enroll and helped me throughout the beginning of the training. Since I started, I was constantly receiving good feedback from staff and other trainees and that motivated me to do better and work harder. One thing that motivated me, for sure, was my boyfriend who is in the army. Seeing him doing bigger and better for him and his family helped me realize I wanted to be a better me for the future.
Throughout my time in Hopeworks, I’ve gained a lot of different skills; skills that I am very excited to show in the future. I have learned to code and I really enjoyed it. Once I got to the GIS (Geographic Information Systems) module, I found it completely fascinating and interesting. I found working my way around the maps and finding data very interesting. I believe that module was one I finished the fastest. It was so easy, yet so interesting to me. I was able to get an internship with the GIS department, which I was extremely excited to start. Since I started, I’ve learned a lot about maps and the data in a lot of different maps. I feel that because of Hopeworks, I will develop a lot of different skills before I go out and get the future I am working so hard for and that's why I will always be grateful for Hopeworks and all of the amazing staff in the office. Because of Hopeworks, I believe my future will be bright and filled with happiness. I gained hope here that I will always be able to support myself and help my family before, during, and after Hopeworks.
David Clark was attending high school in Camden and was struggling to stay focused and motivated with virtual learning. David admits he was more interested in sports than in academics, so high school during a pandemic was a challenge. He didn’t feel supported and left school in December 2020, but knew he needed to find another path. His friend was a Hopeworks GIS intern and David saw that despite some personal challenges, his friend had opportunities at Hopeworks and life was improving for him. He saw his friend making plans and achieving goals, so he started training that same month.
David shared that early in the training, he continued to have trouble staying focused. His schedule was keeping him from getting enough sleep to be productive. David’s Job Readiness Assessment (JRA), conducted during his training, made David aware of the patterns that were keeping him from moving forward. He immediately made the changes needed to get to work on time, be productive and professional, and was able to complete the training program in February. David then earned an internship in the training room helping other youth achieve their goals!
Obtaining a H.S. Diploma is one important goal for David. He is an Adult Basic Skills (ABS) student at Hopeworks preparing for the HiSet test to earn a diploma. David took the first of five tests on March 19th! With an entrepreneurial spirit and the dream to own a business in the future, David feels that Hopeworks has provided the tools he needs to make it happen.
David expressed his gratitude by sharing, “Hopeworks has so many opportunities. I get so much support and learn skills and everyone here is very positive. Outside of Hopeworks, I don’t get that or the guidance I need. I know I need to do the right things and I’m learning the right steps to take at Hopeworks. I stay motivated by the positivity here. I feel more at home at Hopeworks than I did at home.”
“If I learned anything from being at Hopeworks, I learned that resilience is one of the keys to success. Life will throw anything and everything at you but in order to receive what you want and desire, you have to keep trying and never give up. Despite the biggest curve ball that we are all going through, the Coronavirus, we still managed to keep things together at Hopeworks by working remotely from home, practicing social distancing, and taking all precautions if we are needed in the office.
Before the Coronavirus hit, I was a Rowan graduate with a degree that I thought would easily lead to a job coming out of college, but I struggled with finding a job related to my degree. I came across Hopeworks while I was with my sister at Camden County College. As she was registering for classes I noticed a flyer on one of the bulletin boards. It caught my eye and I decided to give them a call. About a month later I scheduled a tour and since then, I have never looked back nor regretted the decision.
During my time at Hopeworks, I was able to become a part of the Youth Healing Team as an intern. Becoming a member of the team has helped me improve my presentation skills, become a more empathetic listener, and I developed new relationships with different organizations. All of this was achieved while working remotely from home. I am grateful for all of the opportunities that Hopeworks has given me. With the help of Hopeworks I recently started my position as a Benefits Specialist at Benefits Data Trust.”
Allissa Connor came to Hopeworks after completing high school. She was interested in design and coding and watched her brother Justin succeed at achieving his goals and earn a job as a Salesforce administrator. After working hard to complete the training, complete an internship in Hopeworks web department, and attend college, all while juggling a second and sometimes third job, Allissa has been hired full time at OpenForge as a Quality Assurance Designer.
OpenForge CEO Jedi shared that Allissa will be responsible for testing products and identifying deficiencies within them; as well as working closely with the development team to resolve issues and ensure the delivery of quality products. "She was a good candidate for this position because she is organized and detail-oriented."
Allissa joins Hopeworks alum Jared Bradshaw at OpenForge. Jared was recently promoted to Marketing Coordinator and when a spot opened up, Jedi asked Jared to help recruit other Hopeworks Alumni. "Hopeworks alumni are suited to joining our team as they’re well-rounded, motivated and eager to learn!," said Jedi.
"Hi! My name is Jeriamyah, and I was referred to Hopeworks by my mentor at College Together. Until then, I never really had a solid plan for my future. I tried college, and then a few trade programs. I thought of game design but didn’t commit. That is how I ended up attending a trade school for IT (Information Technology). I have always liked technology and figured I would want to end up within that work space but was never really sure how to enter it. Out of everything I learned, only one thing truly piqued my interest and that was coding. I was introduced to C++ and found it fun even though I was doing very basic coding. So I looked for something that involved coding. But I didn’t find anything right away. It was only when I started to consider college again that I heard about Hopeworks. I was going to College Together and my mentor, Oscar Wang, not only introduced me to the program, but also helped me enroll in it. The rest is history.
Through Hopeworks, I have gained goals and I now feel closer to achieving something I thought was unattainable for me. I never thought I would be able to get my feet wet in coding, let alone gain an internship. Thanks to Hopeworks, I was able to get a Web Development internship with Annie Rose Webb. Since I started, I have learned a lot. I am becoming more and more comfortable in Web Development. Thanks to Annie Rose and the Web Department, I now feel closer to reaching my goals. Through the experience, I am gaining hope that I can have a good career and earn enough to support my family, especially my siblings."
COVID-19 may have presented many challenges but it also offered opportunity -- opportunity to learn what IS possible.
What did we learn? We learned, that the young people who train and work here are resilient and adaptable. Working remotely on virtual platforms they continued to complete training and internships and are getting hired by companies around the region. And many are entrepreneurs, launching start up businesses.
What's changed? They are not going to work in corporate offices but are joining the ranks of remote workforces that will likely remain remote.
The next challenge? Providing professional spaces that might not be available at home.
The solution? The Burton and Mindy Cohen Foundation established the Burton R. Cohen Technology Center located down the hall from Hopeworks with support from David and Jane Hummel and other Hopeworks friends. This co-working space offers alumni memberships that include desk space, "phone booths" for client calls, conference room privileges, and high-speed internet all in a collaborative environment. Additionally, ongoing professional development opportunities and mentorship are provided.
Join us at noon on Thursday, April 1st for the virtual grand opening! Register here.
“When you’re working at home you have to deal with your parents, static, pets, and life in general. When you’re working in an office you can block those things out or deal with them later. Having a space like the Burton R. Cohen Technology Center will help get me and others into the mindset that it’s time to work and we can accomplish more.”
“The Burton R. Cohen Technology Center will offer me a general workspace because I always struggle working from home. Having a remote space, even if it’s just a little corner, makes me feel like I’m getting things done and not interrupting anyone else.”~ Ulises Ventura: Hopeworks Alum, Contractor at PureIntergration, Member of the Burton R. Cohen Technology Center
Hi! My name is Kayla Wilson and I came to Hopeworks on recommendation from another organization, called Valley Youth House. Originally, I came to Hopeworks to build my technical skills to grow my mutual aid collective, Metamorphosis, and to pursue college. Once I started gaining experience through the training room I realized that there was a lot I could offer to Hopeworks with my previous nonprofit experience and peer support. Working with Hopeworks training room manager, Erich Smith, we were able to combine two existing internships: the Training Room Internship and the Youth Healing Team internship to create a Community Building internship. Community building is especially important at this time of virtual learning and working, as many youth, myself included, came to Hopeworks during the pandemic.
As the Community Building Intern, I facilitate two groups per week. One of the groups is focused on the professional development and networking aspects of community building. The other group is a support group that focuses on the social-emotional aspects of community building and gives our trainees and interns a place to connect. Since starting my internship about two months ago I am able to meet with 3 different youth one-on-one to support their needs as well as facilitate a group chat with 10+ active members.
We have great participation so far in our two weekly groups and I am looking forward to bringing more of my trauma-informed training, provided by the Youth Healing Team, into the community space as well. I love being able to support my peers in a way that feels meaningful, especially with times like we are experiencing now! Often it feels that since we are virtual we miss out on the casual talk and bonding that happens in an office setting. I am excited to help myself and others at Hopeworks to have a safe place to connect and relax with each other. I am also grateful to Hopeworks for being so supportive of this new role and helpful in implementing it.
“The idea was nothing new; it wasn’t as though no one had mentioned wanting to do this or something similar in the past. It just took enough willing young people to take the necessary steps to see it through. Hopeworks is a fantastic organization that, over the years, has provided skills and opportunities to youth, and for as long as it remains, it will continue to do so. As Hopeworks grows in size, it will also continue to improve how it impacts youth as they train and beyond. Thus, the implementation of an Alumni Advisory Board became a reality and members were selected to help lead and provide an “early career” professional perspective for Hopeworks. We want to help push the ideas that will benefit more Hopeworks youth and alumni and find a way to allocate the necessary resources that would support their professional progression.
Members were selected for their passion and desire to serve and recruited across multiple disciplines/fields so they could offer different perspectives on how to approach projects. We have in mind the idea to tackle the business aspects of helping youth as well as emotional and mental health challenges. It is essential to understand youth’s lived experiences, create more positive experiences and help reduce negativity moving forward for the individual and the collective community. In totality, we are here to represent and help significantly increase positive change in the lives of Hopeworks youth and alumni.”
Meet the Hopeworks Alumni Advisory Board Members:
From LinkedIn, Jan. 10, 2021:
Today is my 23rd birthday 🎊 and I have to be honest I didn't believe I'd make it past 18 years old. I've had my share of trials that I somehow was able to survive through. Hopeworks has been a huge factor in my survival and the staff among the organization literally have saved my life over the 5+ years I've been a part of the organization. The extent that they go to helping the youth within Camden County and expose them with opportunities to better themselves is truly inspiring to me.
With that being said Monday I will be starting as the new Youth Training Specialist. From lost teenager, to trainee, to intern and now becoming an official staff member. I will now have the opportunity as well to inspire the next generation that will lead us into the future.
I thank Dan Rhoton for trusting me with this role and I promise to give it my all just like he has for us everyday.
View his original post and connect with Da’Shek on LinkedIn!