Philadelphia is the perfect symbol of the American story: so much opportunity, yet so much untapped potential. This reality is reflected in the opportunities — and challenges — within two distinct markets.
Job openings in hospitality, now the second fastest growing industry in Philly, rose 13% from 2006 to 2016, with continued growth expected through 2024. But the industry also has a 73% annual turnover rate.
Locally in higher education, more and more of our city’s 85,000 youth aged 18-24 are going to college. But traditional colleges are not built for nor meeting the needs of everyday Philadelphians. Too many students are forced to make the false choice between working to live or sacrificing wages to go to school. Too many are taking on unsustainable debt and remain unsupported once they get to school. 70% of college goers drop out with a devastating combination of $14,000 in average debt and no degree to show for it.
HospitalityTogether (HT) is the college alternative where Philadelphians are not asked to choose between working and learning. By combining the worlds of hospitality and higher education, we help restaurants meet their staffing needs with a pool of reliable and driven young talent that they can train and retain — while empowering youth with the mentorship they deserve to advance in their job, earn college credentials, and build a life free from the injustices of poverty. *How It Works*
Students are placed at top restaurants, where they have a path to advancement in wages and position while gaining soft skills. As they advance at work, they also do so in their education through self-paced, affordable, and flexible digital college courses through Brandman University.
All of this comes together with a cohesive support ecosystem that takes place on-campus in our Learning Lounge, a communal hub where students can build community, receive help, and access basic needs such as meals, transportation stipends, and technology. Within a curated schedule, our youth meet regularly in the Lounge with their Student Advocate, a mentor who keeps track of progress every single day, and a team of Learning Advisors that are personal tutors who help them through school.
After a year in HT, students are living free from poverty and have a foundation of income, skills, and college credits that they did not have before. After this foundational period, students have multiple promising pathways: they can choose to reroute to a traditional college, continue advancing in the industry, and/or finish their bachelor’s degree with us in a strong position.
Instead of taking on debt, our students earn income. Instead of working just to work, they are mentored and advance while forging soft skills. And instead of dropping out, they earn a solid foundation of college credits — and eventually a degree. *Your Impact*
We are honored to be a finalist for Billy Penn and the Economy League’s inaugural Full City Challenge, which solicited proposals for innovations in the food industry as a means to fight persistent poverty in Philadelphia.
As part of this challenge, we are looking to raise at least $2,500 by Tuesday, February 19th. Whichever team raises the most funds by then receives a $2,500 match from the Challenge!100% of proceeds from this GoFundMe will go towards basic needs support for our first 50 students in 2019.
Our first cohort of 15 students will begin HT this Spring.
In 2019, every student deserves to work and learn with peace of mind. This is why we have dedicated this specific fund to ensure that all of our youth are able to receive:
- Weekly meals of healthy foods & nutritious snacks so they never go hungry;
- Technology access so they can earn their degree digitally;
- Transportation stipends so they can get to work and school without worry.
$50…ensures a student healthy food access for a month!
$100…means transportation support for a month!
$500…gives two students access to laptops!
$1,000…sponsors a student’s basic needs for a year!
$5,000…covers the entire program cost of a student for a year!
We plan to raise up to $25,000 in phases, listed below:
Phase 1: $2,500 + match by February 19th
Phase 2: $15,000
Phase 3: $25,000*Thank You*
Our entire team is so grateful for the support of so many friends & advocates. Special thanks goes out to the Barra Foundation, the Gray Charitable Trust, and the Douty Foundation for their enduring support of our organization.
If you'd like to learn more, we encourage you to visit our website: https://collegetogether.org
The video below, featuring our founder Oscar Wang, provides a peek into our philosophy of serving every student in HT.
Thank you for being with us on this journey as we create a new type of college where everybody has worth, where everybody belongs. We are fighting for a better pathway to higher education and a better and more just Philadelphia. Join us.