‘From Unemployment to Family Sustaining Wages’ in the Philly Area

with Dan Rhoton of Hopeworks

Pairing digital skills training with professional development is part of the formula that Hopeworks uses to put young adults on the path to success. Dan Rhoton, the organization’s CEO, joins Dara Brown at Net Inclusion 2024 in Philadelphia to discuss this program.

Rhoton states, “At Hopeworks, we're moving folks from unemployment to family-sustaining wages. And to do that in this economy, that means they don't just need access to the Internet, they need the skills and the tools to ... get jobs and build businesses to support their family.”

Posted on:

March 29, 2024

Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Brown: For young adults in underserved neighborhoods, there can be many barriers to finding career opportunities. Helping these young people develop modern skills for the workforce can start them on a positive path, even instill hope. Hello. I'm Dara Brown. This is "Getting Connected" powered by "Comcast Newsmakers." We're here today at the Net Inclusion 2024 Conference in Philadelphia. And joining me to discuss ways to help underserved students find hope in their futures is Dan Rhoton, CEO of Hopeworks. And, Dan, thank you so much for being here.

Rhoton: It's a pleasure to be here.

Brown: Dan, you have a background in education. So, how did you bring that to work with Hopeworks?

Rhoton: You know, when I started teaching, I didn't just teach at a normal school, I taught actually at a detention facility. And what we learned there is you can have young adults who are ready, who are smart, who get the diploma, but with all the education in the world, if there's no one who's going to give them that first shot, that first job, they can still get stuck. And that was one of the foundational ideas that we brought to Hopeworks when we were really thinking about how to make change.

Brown: So, explain to me how Hopeworks works.

Rhoton: Yeah, it's pretty simple. Young adults come in, typically making less than $400.00 a year, unemployed, but ready and ready to work. We train them. We train them in front-end web development, technology, geographic information systems, but also social, professional and emotional skills to make sure they're ready. Once they're ready, they're ready for work, but they still have no experience. And that's where that first job comes in. We hire them. Hopeworks runs technology businesses where we provide services to companies all over the country. We hire them into our businesses first. They work for us first, they get experiences, they get wages and then they move right into life-changing jobs.

Brown: Dan, where does digital equity and inclusion fit into Hopeworks?

Rhoton: Digital equity inclusion is essential to the work we do at Hopeworks. At Hopeworks, we're moving folks from unemployment to family sustaining wages. And to do that in this economy, that means they don't just need access to the internet, but they need the skills and the tools to leverage that to get jobs and build businesses to support their family. That's why it's so important for us and why we're so excited to be here.

Brown: Can you share a success story?

Rhoton: Absolutely. Just a few weeks ago, we had one of our young adults come in. He'd gone through Hopeworks, moved from unemployment to starting his own digital agency. But that wasn't even the best part. The best part is he came back to Hopeworks not just to say hello, but his business has grown so much that he was looking to hire additional employees and he came to Hopeworks to hire his first employees.

Brown: Dan Rhoton, thank you so much for joining us today.

Rhoton: My pleasure.

Brown: And thanks to you as well for watching. For more conversations about digital equity and broadband expansion, visit gettingconnected.com. I'm Dara Brown. ♪♪ ♪♪

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