Hopeworks ‘N Camden and Spare Key: Everyone wins in this lost football bet!


A few weeks ago, I reconnected with a young man I met while on a trip to Necker Island in 2016.

Derek Lundsten is the CEO of Scrimmage, www.wescrimmage.com, a company founded in 2010 that set out to directly link corporate learning with mobile technology.

In looking at the Scrimmage website one can see an impressive array of corporate clients from all over the world.

But, it isn’t those corporate clients that Derek helped me, and Spare Key, www.sparekey.org, connect with over the course of the last few weeks.

A little backstory first.

Spare Key was on the receiving end of a donation by KleinBank, www.kleinbank.com, a Minnesota family owned and operated bank founded in 1907 of two tickets to Super Bowl LII.

We promptly came up with the idea of selling 250 raffle tickets to give people a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win those tickets.

Derek reached out to me and said that not only did he want to buy a block of those tickets, but he, through his company, wanted to market and promote our effort across all of their social media platforms.

Perhaps more importantly, Derek asked if I had any interest in a contest with a non-profit that serves youth in the Philadelphia area called Hopeworks ‘N Camden, www.hopeworks.org.

Of course, the contest he had in mind was a bet between me, the Executive Director of Spare Key, and Dan Rhoton, the Executive Director Hopeworks ‘N Camden and it revolved around who would win the NFC Championship Game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles.

By now, you have already learned that the Minnesota Vikings lost.  The Eagles won.

We pulled a winning ticket from the 172 raffle tickets we sold on Twin Cities LIVE! and raised Spare Key $43,000!

And, I am spending the week between now and the Super Bowl wearing Eagles clothing and helping to raise awareness about Hopeworks ‘N Camden.

Let me start by saying that Hopeworks ‘N Camden has a powerful mission serving young people.

Hopeworks ‘N Camden uses education, technology and entrepreneurship to partner with young men and women as they identify and earn a sustainable future.

They seek to seize the opportunity to heal and thrive in the midst of violence and poverty.

In further describing Hopeworks ‘N Camden I thought their own words would serve best:

“The pastoral teams of three Camden churches, two Lutheran and one Catholic, founded Hopeworks collaboratively.  We officially opened our doors to our first trainees in March 2000. Since then:

  • Over 1,200 youth from our target population have visited Hopeworks.
  • Trainees have gone on to get jobs, attend college, and earn GEDs.
  • Under the direction of our full-time Web site project director, our trainees have developed Web sites for more than 400 paying clients, mainly local, national, and international small businesses and non-profit organizations.
  • Our GIS business has served more than 60 clients, producing parcel maps, digitizing land use information, and creating online mapping functionality with Google Maps.
  • We have developed lasting partnerships with dozens of different organizations (a mix of governmental, commercial, and faith-based organizations) that help us to accomplish our mission.”

While the word “Hope” is clearly prominent in their organization’s name, it’s Executive Director knows that “Hope” isn’t empty rhetoric.

In a letter he has posted on his organization’s website Executive Director Dan Rhoton writes, Hope is not a feeling, and hope is not a perspective. At Hopeworks, we know that hope is an act — an act of working towards a better future.”

And, it is working!

According to outcomes from June 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017 Hopeworks ‘N Camden helped:

–       55 youth finish training

–       59 youth earning a job

–       Over $332,000 in youth wages and stipends

–       285 college credits earned

–       Average reading grain of 2.0 grade levels

–       Average applied math gain of 2.38 grade levels

I have long believed that the world we live in today is better than at any time in the history of humanity.

It’s not perfect.  For those who it is not perfect it can be a cold and unwelcoming place.

Yet, there is no shortage of good people and organizations doing good works to help those who need an opportunity – a helping hand – a lift up to the next step of the ladder of opportunity.

Hopeworks ‘N Camden is one of those good organizations, filled with good people, doing important work to give young men and women a window of opportunity for a better future.

While I am not completely happy to be wearing the colors and logo of the Eagles this week while my state hosts Super Bowl LII I am proud to have lost a bet to an organization that is doing important work to make the lives of others better.

Fly, Eagles, Fly!

Fly, Hopeworks ‘N Camden, Fly!


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