Episode Notes

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On this episode of the Digital Citizen podcast, Dan Rhoton, Executive Director of Hopeworks, talks to Fastmail CTO Ricardo Signes about the mission of Hopeworks and their trauma-informed approach to teaching.

Episode Notes

Hear about how Hopeworks helps young people enter the workforce and the “Aha!” moments that many program participants experience. Dan also discusses Hopeworks’ trauma-informed training and what can be done at a larger scale to address some of these issues associated with poverty.

▶️ Guest Interview - Dan Rhoton

🗣️ Discussion Points

  • Hopeworks is located in Camden, New Jersey, and works with young adults aged 17-26. These young adults enter the program unemployed and leave the program making roughly $43,000 per year, and 80% of them are still working 12 months later. The program begins with training including the technical, social, and emotional skills needed for success. After the training stage, participants enter jobs at Hopework’s own suite of web design services to build their portfolio.
  • Dan believes that what makes Hopeworks so successful is the fact that they recognize that a technical certification may get someone a job, but that doesn’t mean they will keep it. They really emphasize helping their people heal and become more emotionally healthy, ready for the challenges of the world, and knowing how to ask for help.
  • The trauma-informed approach at Hopeworks means that they know that people have been hurt, and it will be harder for them to succeed if they never deal with that hurt.
  • Hopeworks has figured out that the solution to poverty is money. They have decided that if they can help people experiencing poverty get the tools they need to make it into high-wage and high-growth fields, many of the problems associated with poverty start going away. This, for Dan, has been one of the most exciting things to observe in his role. They have even had participants go off to begin their own tech businesses and come back to Hopeworks to hire their first employees.
  • When many of the young people begin at Hopeworks, they are consumers of technology but don’t actually understand it enough to solve their own problems. When they leave Hopeworks, they understand that technology is a force that can be used to solve problems. Dan believes it is very important that the people who understand and control technology are not the ones with lots of money who don’t understand the needs of the world.

⭐ Takeaways

  • There are lots of organizations doing similar work to Hopeworks. Determine the change you want to make happen and then find out who you can work with to make it happen.
  • Technology is a means to an end, but you have to target the right end. If you’re someone who builds technology, it’s important to ask yourself if what you’re building serves the people who will be using it.

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