The close of a year and the beginning of a new one is an especially beautiful time to reflect on accomplishments and growth. We’re entering a new decade, and leaving behind 10 years of work and progress. This monumental turn-of-the page feels like a critical time to look forward and project where we hope to go over the next 10 years. The best predictor of where we’ll go is by looking at the shifts we’ve seen in the last year.
For more than three decades, HopeWorks has served Memphians relentlessly. We’ve provided job training and support, connected mentors and mentees, saw students become HopeWorks employees and watched our services expand into sectors we may never have anticipated. Our path is a sign of the Lord’s providence and the prayerful guidance we’ve received along the way.
The last year proved to be a year of transformative growth for HopeWorks. Our programs and focus turned toward reentry, and we feel strongly that this is the Lord guiding our path. We received two grants from the Department of Justice, totaling more than $1.5 million, which will significantly expand our ability to provide holistic reentry services. We see this service sector as a major area of growth for 2020 and beyond.
We’ve also seen great success through the Mid-South Employer Resource Network. We hired a success coach nearly two years ago. Her primary goal is to support employers and employees by creating practical, collaborative solutions to problems that traditionally hinder a person’s ability to reliably show up for work. Businesses who’ve partnered with us have all renewed their contracts for 2020, and new businesses are hoping to join the program when we hire an additional success coach in the coming months. This program is another example of a shift in our services – providing support to both employees and employers.
In 2020, we’ll add additional technical training opportunities to our Hope 2 Hire program at Shelby County Division of Corrections. We’ll continue supporting graduates at HopeWorks while continuing to add new students to our program. It’s our hope that in 2020 we’ll learn more about the success rate of this program by actively engaging with our students to determine how improving inmate education has impacted recidivism rates.
If we could sum up where HopeWorks is headed in 2020, we would say that we’re getting our arms around the intersection of workforce development and culture. We’re working to not only meet the educational needs of Memphians, but also creating pathways for people to engage in the workforce without barriers. This work is exciting, and we hope that 2020 will produce meaningful change in the lives of our students and in our organization.