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.”

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.”

As Cory Communications ventures into a new year and our 20th Anniversary, we’d like to share some of the stories and highlights of our journey. One such highlight is happening currently in 2021. Now, more than ever, it is important to reinforce our purpose to our customers and the community.

Our industry is full of partnerships, whether it be business partners or our charitable community partnerships. Cory Communications was very fortunate when one of our oldest business partners, George Hutchinson of Hutchinson of Business Solutions, introduced us in 2006 to Hopeworks in Camden, NJ.  

With their 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.

Last week, we received a call from one of our top business partners Paul Boyer, from Ancero, who is also a Hopeworks sponsor. He brought us up to speed on a current need of Hopeworks and asked us to join in. By the next day we were in contact with Dan Rhoton, Executive Director of Hopeworks, and had also pulled in another Cory longtime partner Tom Greeno from TG Communications. Presently, we are all working on a project and subsequent solution to support this wonderful SJ nonprofit organization.  

The current project involves equipping youths with private work stations to allow them to effectively become remote workers and learners, because unfortunately many of them do not have adequate access or privacy in their current home environment. When complete, the upgrades will allow more youth to be employed using the training they receive from Hopeworks’ programs. As a result, it will also help them to progress with their careers and lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As a small business in the community, Cory Communications is proud that during these challenging times for so many, we along with our valued business partners can rally to help and serve those in need.

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

Penji’s Partnership With Hopeworks

Penji: An Invaluable Partner in Empowering the Community.

As an organization that focuses on empowering the youth to build strong futures, we’re always ready to team up with community partners who are working to achieve the same goals as we are. Penji is one of these organizations. 

A graphic design company that offers unlimited designs for a flat monthly rate, Penji takes pride in offering quality output for its clients. But what they do and stand for goes far beyond that. More than fame and profit, Penji works to create life-changing opportunities not only for its employees but for small businesses and nonprofits. 

Speaking of the Penji partnering with nonprofits, that's exactly how we're connected to this graphic design platform. Penji came to our attention because we admire the company's work - not only in delivering their product but also in changing the community. 

In fact, they let us have excellent design while at the same time keeping our focus where it belongs, which is our young people. Penji allows us to reliably and repeatedly have an exceptional design when we need it on our terms. 

“Easy and effective - those two words really sum up our experience with Penji,” our executive director Dan Rhoton said.

Thanks to Penji’s generosity in offering opportunities, one of our home-grown alumni has also landed a full-time job at the company. Thanks to the alumna’s impressive internship background at Hopeworks, it wasn’t hard for her to get into a reputable graphic design company like Penji. 

What Penji Does for Us

Thanks to Penji, we don't have to spend hours and resources to create graphic designs that allow us to reach out to the community. Even though we're not a "paying" client, their designers work just as hard for our projects. 

Moreover, they make sure that we have what we need right on schedule. Thanks to their designs, we can reach out better to our audience and encourage more young people to follow their dreams.

Empowering Youth

“It takes a village to raise a child,” so the proverb goes. This is an inspiring concept, but we believe that guiding young people should go beyond childhood. And so, we offer a more comprehensive version - it takes a community to empower the youth. 

As responsible citizens, we must help the youth reach their full potential. And it's up to us to pave the path that leads to their bright future so that they can do the same for the generation after them. Carrying out this mission can be tough, but we're happy to know that we're doing it alongside Penji - a company with a heart.

Learn more about Penji's services and products here.

On Thursday, November 19, 2020, Hopeworks joined our partners at Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors, Camden City School District, Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, the Hill Family Center for College Access at Rutgers Camden, and Camden County College to graduate our 2020 cohort of Medical Assistant students!

Congratulations to Richanna Uter, Rayana Felix, Traci Baytop, Zariah Santiago, and Thalia Alpheaus as you begin your careers in the medical field!

"Thank you for having this program, and working everything out for us, and for being there for us..." ~ Rayana Felix

Launched in 2019 in Southern New Jersey, Propel America is a multi-state nonprofit focused on empowering high school students with skills needed to transition into living-wage jobs. Sounds familiar, right?  With missions aligned, Hopeworks and Propel are working together to provide youth with access and resources needed to be successful in life. Quanahz Adams and Michael McClain are evidence that we can make that happen quickly.  The two Propel youth came to Hopeworks training in July and are already in their internships!

As high school seniors, both Quanahz and Michael had aspirations of going to college. When asked about what their plans were before Propel, both felt strongly about the need for a college education or postsecondary training. Propel was "another choice", Quanahz stated, and he became intrigued with learning about technology once he realized it would help him achieve his goal of creating a company that posted reviews of animations. He deferred that dream when he realized he didn't have the skills to create a website, but he’s confident he can achieve that now.  As a new intern in the Hopeworks Web Department, Quanahz will sharpen those skills.

Michael knew that college was in his future, he was interested in studying business marketing to complement his already growing internet following. While in his senior year, Michael had attracted a large internet following by creating video content on social media. He’s using his skills and learning more about social media marketing as an intern in Hopeworks Communication Department.

Through the Hopeworks Townsend Scholars Fund, a program that pays for tuition at Camden Community College, both interns are registered for the Fall semester and well on their way to achieving their college goals. 

When asked to describe Hopeworks in one word Michael responded, "Opportunity". Michael didn't realize that his opportunities were limited until he saw the many options available to youth in his new environment. Both youths agree that the opportunity and access door opened for them through Propel. Both Quanhaz and Michael have entrepreneurial spirits and are using their newfound social capital and skills at Hopeworks to propel them forward. Quanahz shared that,"Hopeworks is a phenomenal program and has been a great foundation for me." 

Not even COVID-19 could prevent the youth and staff of Hopeworks, PowerCorps PHL, and Rodriguez Consulting from launching their long-awaited infrastructure training program!

Thanks to the support of Springpoint Partners, LLC’s Delta lane, youth from both Camden and Philadelphia have the opportunity to train and earn high-wage careers in the infrastructure industry. This unique partnership is successfully placing motivated young people, who might otherwise be un- or underemployed, in high wage, mid-skill positions in the water infrastructure industry, helping build and maintain the fundamental utilities and services that make our cities function. These are jobs that are not only growing, but needed more than ever in the midst of a historic pandemic.

Key concepts include an introduction to streets infrastructure, water distribution and collection systems, stormwater and green water management, field data collection and land surveying, and mapping and computer-aided design.

Look to see the infrastructure trainees on site in a neighborhood near you!

The long term economic impact of the pandemic is not yet known and the nation continues to struggle to meet the promise of racial equality and justice.  Turmoil and uncertainty currently define the national spirit. But the region is stepping up to find solutions to the challenges that face many of Hopeworks youth while also addressing some of the systemic issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

This past month we have seen an outpouring of support from our business partners in the region.  Our partners are always quick to help, but they are going full steam ahead in their commitment to change.  Friends at TD Bank and PNC are holding regular series of trainings to AGILE Development (TD Bank) and Financial Management (PNC Bank).  Professionals like David Dylan Thomas, met with youth and presented on “Design for Cognitive Bias” and talked about his upcoming book; and Kevin Bunting, Gus Meyer, and John McCartney, held Chat & Chews to offer guidance on careers in tech, IT, and non-tech fields.

Tech firms and digital marketing friends in the Philly region are taking real steps to help prepare and hire Hopeworks youth by designing curriculum that will strengthen the youth-to-jobs pipeline at companies like SEER Interactive, Linode, TechWomen at Comcast, Promptworks, Salesforce, and SEOM.   

Hopeworks’ promise to youth, to help them transform their lives with living wage jobs and a future career track, doesn’t happen in a vacuum and we’re grateful to all in the region who are helping to make it happen!

This is a hard time for everyone -- families, organizations, and, of course, the youth and their families here at Hopeworks. However, even in the midst of all of this, we are also grateful and excited right now!  Thanks to our amazing supporters, partners, and clients, Hopeworks youth continue to grow, thrive, and earn wages during this stressful time.  When many of their families have lost jobs and income, our youth continue to bring home critical paychecks and stipends to help out.  They have also adapted to the "new normal" with incredible agility and have been super productive working remotely.  

This happens only because everyone in our ecosystem has made it possible for us to be flexible and continue to help youth change their lives, even under extraordinary circumstances.  Thank you for making the stories in this newsletter possible.

With gratitude,

Dan Rhoton
Executive Director

808 Market St 3rd Floor
Camden, NJ 08102
(856) 365-4673
Hopeworks is a 501(c)(3) non-for-profit organization, EIN: 31-1660671.
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