CAMDEN, N.J. – Hopeworks of Camden, a nonprofit organization whose focus is to grow technology skills of youth to use working with enterprising businesses within the community, is hoping to be one of nine benefactors of the Philadelphia Foundation’s Key to Community Grants initiative.
To celebrate their second century of service to the community, the Philadelphia Foundation is offering $1 million to nine area nonprofit organizations, but there’s a catch: It’s asking the public to decide which nonprofit to support.
Through July 26, people can go online and vote for what program they would like to see funded by the foundation’s grant.
At stake are three first-place $200,000 grants, three second-place $100,000 grants and three third-place $33,000 grants. Leaders from all 15 finalist organizations will also be invited to participate in the Philadelphia Foundation’s Leadership Institute in the fall of 2019.
“We’re doing this to highlight, accelerate and amplify the impact of great organizations in our community and to make the public aware of the power we all have to improve lives by supporting nonprofits,” Philadelphia Foundation President and CEO Pedro A. Ramos said in a statement. “The contenders serve a broad array of community needs through proven programs. Philadelphia Foundation wants to find out which ones resonate most with Greater Philadelphia residents, so we encourage everyone to vote every day.”
Hopeworks, the only New Jersey nonprofit in the running, would like to see their initiative, Pay Raise and Build a Diverse Tech Workforce, at the top spot when voting ends.
Through their programs over the past five years, Hopeworks says they have seen how training young people in technical skills while preparing them with professional, social, and emotional skills, and, at the same time, giving them real-world workplace experiences, has led to a 90% job retention rate after one year that moves the youth from an income of under $1,000 to one of nearly $35,000 annually.
“Multiple Fortune 500 employers are now hiring directly from Hopeworks for tech positions,” Hopeworks Executive Director Dan Rhoton said. “In addition, many smaller employers are also utilizing Hopeworks to fill their tech needs.”
Rhoton believes that they now need the investment to grow their business development efforts, providing more jobs for youth, and grow the support infrastructure to make sure youth are ready for those jobs and to make more of a regional impact.
“It would be a tremendous boon to win the award and allow us to dramatically expand our work,” Rhoton said.
Hopeworks was organized in 1999 with the goal of offering training to high school dropouts. Today their focus is on education, technology, and entrepreneurship, providing a “positive, healing atmosphere that propels young people to build strong futures and break the cycle of violence and poverty in Camden,” according to their website.
To vote, go to philafound.org/vote/. People can vote once per day.