In the Victorian building on State Street in Camden, N.J., computers are whirling as part of the IT training and consulting nonprofit Hopeworks N’ Camden that’s bringing education and help to the city’s residents — and rejuvenating the spirit of the city in the process.
Camden probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when thinking about IT. After all, 43 percent of the population doesn’t have a high school diploma and 47. 8 percent are living in poverty, reports Next City. Hopeworks is working to do something about this and so far, the program has assisted more than 1,000 youth enter college, begin careers and achieve GEDs. It’s also provided training in web design, geographic information systems (GIS) and the global cloud computing platform Salesforce. Additionally, trainees can put their schooling into practice by working in the Hopeworks consulting firm, which services members of their community. The nonprofit has around 60 clients for whom they provide GIS services.
“We offer a service and people hire us to work for them, just like any other consulting firm,” GIS director Luis Olivieri tells Next City. “We just finished a project with the Merchantville-Pennsauken Water Commission to locate their fire hydrants using GPS technology.”
For the student-employees, the experience is rewarding and something they probably thought wasn’t possible. Theadie White attends Camden County Community College and works at Hopeworks as a web intern as well.
“Yeah, I like it. It pays me, so that’s awesome,” Theadie explains. “But it also gave me a lot of skills I didn’t expect that I needed improvement on. I’ve gotten a lot out of it and a lot of other people can get a lot out of it, as well.”
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