HopeWorks, an organization that helps the underserved with job training and adult education courses, has acquired a building on Summer Avenue that will be become its new home next year following renovations. The group will relocate to the former Southern Security Federal Credit Union building at 3337 Summer Avenue in the Binghampton community.
HopeWorks began a capital campaign last week to raise $750,000 for the cost of the renovation, along with the $150,000 cost of purchasing the building. The nonprofit plans a mid-2017 relocation and will fully close its current operations at 1930 Union Ave.
“Strategically we think it’s in a pretty good spot,” said HopeWorks executive director Ron Wade. “Our new location is between two communities that have asked for our services to be provided there: Binghampton on the south side of Summer Avenue and the Heights on the north side.”
With a new space nearly double the size of their current home on Union Avenue, Wade expects to be able to serve more people and be more of a fixed asset in the community. The move will allow HopeWorks to double its class offerings.
Renovations will include creating additional classroom space, as well as adding a commercial kitchen to the property.
“That way we’ll be able to provide lunches for our students,” said Wade.
Renaissance Group Inc. created design plans for the 10,500-square-foot space, and HopeWorks plans to bid out the construction work in the near future.
The move was necessary due to HopeWorks’ rapid growth over the past few years, as well as the overall program success.
Now in its 28th year, today HopeWorks helps an average of 55 students per month earn their high school equivalency diplomas and is on pace to help more than 600 students earn their diploma by year’s end. In addition to traditional students, HopeWorks also assists an average of 50 inmates from the Shelby County correctional facility per month through its professional and career development program.
“We provide job readiness training for anyone in the city that has been unemployed for a variety of reasons, with the most common being a lack of a high school education or coming out of incarceration,” said Wade, who estimates that HopeWorks has served 1,500 people in the past 90 days alone.
Thanks to increased funding earlier this year, the organization has expanded to 21 different class sites across four counties during 2016.
“In the past two years, we’ve grown from a staff of 10 to about 75” said Wade, who expects to hire more teachers for the additional classrooms once HopeWorks moves into the new building.