A brief history of HopeWorks in Memphis

HopeWorks, Inc. has been providing hope and opportunity in Memphis for more than 30 years. But tenured organizations such as ours must start somewhere. Let’s dive into a brief history of HopeWorks in Memphis.

In 1988, a large gap separated Memphis’ social services and government agencies. From this gap, an opportunity arose. Several Churches of Christ in the Memphis area developed a vision to aid the poor and homeless populating the Memphis and Shelby County area. The original idea was to provide temporary housing, but this idea eventually developed into a program to give people a sense of independence and purpose.

Wayne Reed, director of the Memphis Area Cooperative Services, took this program, designated the Life Skills Lab, and based it on the Hope Program located in New York City. In 1990, the Life Skills Lab acquired its first group of students.

In 1998, the Life Skills Lab was renamed to its current title, HopeWorks, Inc. From there, the organization received its 503(c)(3) status, which allows for federal tax exemption of nonprofit organizations. In other words, HopeWorks is considered exclusively as a charitable organization.

To better indicate what HopeWorks offers, the classes were renamed Personal and Career Development classes and grouped under the Personal and Career Development program. Offered throughout the year, this 10-week tuition-free program provides more than 300 hours of classroom instruction and counseling to classes of 20 students.

One way we encourage personal responsibility in the classroom is by requiring students to attend these classes Monday through Friday on a full-time basis and random drug testing. We have graduated over 1,300 students.

For more than 30 years, HopeWorks’ goal has been to provide hope and opportunity through education, spiritual development and respect for work. We look forward to continuing to give hope and offer jobs to people in Memphis for another 30 years.

To learn more about HopeWorks and our mission, call us at (901) 272-3700.