Creating Hope with The HOPE Program

Team Members that Participated:
Danielle Lawrence, Lauren Crenshaw, Olivia Janicelli, Sarah Montalto, Dara Cothran, Michele Mendelson, Jen Dakin, Jordanna Gualtieri, Ariel Cohen, Ashley Charleson, Kristina Rivera, Margaret Manning and Naomi Shaw


Name of Organization: The HOPE Program


Link to their website and social handles: thehopeprogram.org/ 


Tell us a little bit about the organization/project you worked with.

HOPE empowers New Yorkers to build sustainable futures through comprehensive training, jobs, advancement and lifelong career support.

Since its founding in 1984, HOPE has built strong relationships with employers, referral sources, and peer service providers across the community; expanded their portfolio of programs; and consistently made data-driven programmatic enhancements to meet the evolving needs of their community. In 2015, HOPE significantly expanded its impact through a strategic partnership with Sustainable South Bronx, bolstering their capacity to improve New York City’s environmental sustainability. In April 2020, HOPE debuted a fully remote training program in response to COVID-19, the first of its kind serving New Yorkers with low levels of digital literacy. Today, HOPE serves approximately 450 new jobseekers annually, providing them with resources to succeed in the job market and keep their families afloat during this crucial time.

HOPE offers classroom-based training (now virtual) and transitional employment programs year-round, with industry-specific training pathways in green infrastructure as well as general career readiness. Participants receive training in soft skills, workplace hard skills, financial and digital literacy, and work wellness. They also receive a wide range of wraparound services, such as professional attire for job interviews, daily meals, subsidized transportation, counseling and mental health referrals, case management services, and much more. As a result of this approach, HOPE consistently yields long-term outcomes among the strongest in the field, including 81% one-year job retention over the past 3 years, empowering their graduates to not only secure employment, but to succeed in the workforce and build sustainable futures.

The KWT Global Purpose Committee and a number of staff recently participated in their “Interview Project,” one of their many initiatives that partners with employers to participate in mock interview sessions and providing HOPE trainees the opportunity to practice and hone their interview readiness and techniques.


How did you first get involved with this organization? What made you decide to work with them?

Roughly a year ago, KWT Global Vice President of Global Talent & HR, Kate Jimenez participated in HOPE’s Job Club where jobseekers, following their classroom-based training, enter into a structured resume clinic and job search program and work one-on-one with volunteers.  Afterwards, she introduced the organization and the “Interview Project” to KWT. From interview preparation to career mentorship, we immediately saw what a perfect fit the organization is for our team of writing wizards and communications experts with our abundance of expertise.


What work did you do to support them, and what unique skills or experience could you bring to the table?

For the virtual Interview Project, our team reviewed both the resumes and job postings the HOPE students were preparing to submit across customer service, real estate, administration and IT. We each paired up with a group of students for 20-minute mock interview sessions, drawing from our own personal experiences and provide feedback in real-time. Students were asked to come armed with applicable anecdotes and questions which helped us treat the interviews as if they were real and ensure the students left the sessions feeling as prepared for the real thing as possible.


What did you take away from your experience – both professionally and personally?

If anyone can understand and relate to HOPE trainees’ hesitation and fear of not getting a job, it’s me. I come from a low-income family and have a non-traditional job trajectory and know first-hand how having a different background and experience than other applicants can hinder securing employment. It was definitely touching to hear the individual stories of the two HOPE trainees that Olivia Janicelli and I interviewed together and what they envision for their future.

Professionally, I’ve never interviewed anyone for a position and was able to utilize my knowledge and tips of interviewing in those mock interviews. It was an amazing insight on the side of an interviewer and that it’s not as easy as it looks.