How Our First Grant Helped Transform The Organization

In 2018, Impact100SJ awarded our very first grant of $74,000 to Hopeworks ‘N Camden, a Camden-based organization that provides young people ages 17-26 with training in coding, web development and entrepreneurship. At the time, Hopeworks had been operating for many years out of a row home in Camden, but they had outgrown it. More young people than could fit into its space wanted to participate in its training opportunities.

Hopeworks had obtained a larger space but needed funding to fit out and develop the space with desks, learning stations, technology training curriculum and software to better prepare its young people for a range of well-paying jobs. The Impact100 South Jersey grant helped make it happen as Hopeworks was moving to its new space that summer.

Last month, Hopeworks’ executive director Dan Rhoton reached out to Impact100 SJ grant chair Kim Moon and invited her to visit Hopeworks in order to see the results of our investment. Along with Impact president Judy Greenberg grant review co-chair Irene Giman, and nonprofit outreach co-chair Sue Polikoff, Kim returned to the space for the first time since 2018 to see a place bustling with activity.  

In addition to the website development and technology training that it initially offered, Hopeworks now has space to focus on academic-based skills training, career readiness and college counseling. The GIS online mapping training and business program has expanded to its own space on the same floor. And this past summer, with the help of a generous funder, Hopeworks opened a co-working space that offers desks, high-speed internet phone booth rooms and conference room access that is free for Hopeworks alumni – many of whom work for Comcast, American Water, Cooper University Hospital and other area businesses. Currently, 85% of the youth completing Hopeworks training go on to high-wage jobs, with an average starting wage of $43,000. 

Executive Director Dan Rhoton is thrilled at how much growth Hopeworks has experienced in the years since the Impact100SJ grant. “In the old space, we were training 12 folks at a time. Now, in this space, it’s 50 at a time. We have about 135 youth coming through Hopeworks every month.” He credits Impact100 SJ for supporting them at that crucial stage when they first moved in: “Thanks so much for helping make our story possible.”

Interested in learning about ways that you or your workplace can get involved with Hopeworks? Reach out to Impact100 SJ Nonprofit Outreach Committee Chair Kim Moon at kimberlyfmoon@gmail.com for more information.