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Cache Flow Podcast

E32: Using Tech to Break the Poverty Cycle with Hopeworks’ Dan Rhoton

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This episode, Hopeworks’ Executive Director, Dan Rhoton, talks about how Hopeworks is helping people overcome economic hardships, the key indicators that someone will stay in employment, and what it’s been like expanding into Philadelphia.

Dan Rhoton is an experienced education and nonprofit leader, with two decades of experience helping youth and adults achieve their dreams.

Dan is the Executive Director at Hopeworks, a non-profit that uses technology, education, and entrepreneurship to connect young people to life-changing opportunities. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Cache Flow:

  • Why Dan decided to teach at a detention facility instead of a selective school.
  • What people need to get out of poverty, and why education isn’t enough.
  • How Hopeworks is able to be so efficient with their job placement program.
  • How poverty and trauma contribute to attendance issues.
  • The effect consistent coach meetings have on students.
  • What it’s been like expanding a non-profit into Philly’s Kensington neighborhood.
  • The ways Hopeworks has been able to reduce poverty in the areas it operates.
Connect with Dan Rhoton:
Connecting with the host:
  • 8:18 – “If you’re 16, 15, 16, 17, and you’re doing enough stuff, that they’re sending it away to get locked up. Now you’re doing bad stuff. I don’t want to take anything away. But I’ll tell you something else, ambition ain’t your problem, right? I mean, these are young men. They’re all men. These are young men that like, given the choice between like giving up or sitting in their mom’s basement or getting out there and making money and doing something with their life, they chose getting out there, right? Brave. Like, literally dangerous, right? And they’re out there doing it, like now they were going in the wrong direction. Okay? I, I hear you. But like, that’s who I want to work with, right? The fire’s there, you have to be on your toes. Like we, it’s a directional challenge. It’s not an ambition or drive challenge, right? Like, bring it on. Right?”
  • 20:50 – “We take young adults making less than $400 a year unemployed and getting them into jobs, right? So there’s three big numbers we track, right? How many folks do we get into jobs? How many of them kept them for a year? And by the way, we picked a year because all our research shows that if somebody keeps a job for a year, even if they get laid off, they’ll get another job, right? They’re going to be okay. If someone keeps a job for less than a year, and they get laid off or fired, they’re gonna probably slide back into what they were doing before. So that year mark is important, right? So how many folks did we get a job? How, how many kept it for a year? And how much are they making, right? So that’s the biggie.”
  • 22:38 – “Everybody wants it, right? I mean, that, that whole, you know, you’ve probably heard the whole like, oh, folks don’t want to work. You know, we have a waiting list that doesn’t have this morning, has 88 people on it. You know, folks wanna work, they want to do it. But you know where the work really comes in is convincing young adults that they can do it, right? Because it’s just like anything else. Like if I’m gonna start running a marathon, the hardest part is when I take that first jog and I go two blocks I’m out of breath, that’s when I’m going to quit. Right? That’s when I’m going to give, give up and say, I’m not a marathoner. I can’t do it. Right? That’s what happens at Hopeworks. Young adults come in, they want to do it, they believe they can do it, and it’s so unfamiliar. No one in their social circle has done this before. They’ve never done it before. Right? And that’s the work of Hopeworks is saying, well, of course it’s hard. Like it should be hard, and we’re going to help you get the rest of the way if we can get ’em through that. You know, I always say if you’re running a marathon once, once you hit mile 12, you’re probably going to run the whole marathon. Right? Where you’re going to quit is trying to get to mile through mile one and two, right? And that’s the work that we’re doing.”
  • 24:05 – “We started figuring out like what are the things that predict if someone’s going to get a job, right? And like, and then we started tracking those, like a couple surprising things we found out, right? Like, the biggest predictor we found of whether or not someone’s going to get a job is not necessarily how they come in, is not necessarily their attendance the first week. Like all those things you’d imagine, you know, what we found it is the best predictor of whether or not someone’s going to get a job is how often their coach meets with them.”
  • 50:00 – “If you’re hiring, do a mock interview with our young adults, right? And, you’ll see how awesome they are, and you’ll help ’em get through that final thing. And then once you see, kind of like how awesome everybody is, like, help us do more. Right? So we’re always looking for companies to utilize our business services and web and GIS. If you are in that field, and you’re looking for like an awesome subcontractor to pick up a part of the project and keep your costs low, we got you right. And you’re gonna change lives while you’re doing it.”

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Episode Sponsor

This episode is sponsored by Curotec, a software development solutions provider, offering both project-based application development and staff augmentation services. Global top consulting experts in Laravel, Vue.js, and enterprise WordPress development services. Contact Curotec today to discuss your next development project, or to augment your in-house team with top talent. 

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