child in wheelchair

Unlocking great potential

In Southern California, Hope Builders’ comprehensive training programs prepare unemployed young people for careers and much more.

One woman enrolled in Hope Builders’ registered behavioral technician training program because she wanted to help people like her nephew, who has autism. Another woman signed on to the construction skills program because she was impressed by the leg up her boyfriend received from it. Each year, Hope Builders, a nonprofit in Orange County, California, trains 550 young adults like these for jobs — and life. 

Despite being one of America’s wealthiest enclaves, Orange County is also a place of stark inequality, with tens of thousands of young people out of school and unemployed, lacking job skills and often in trouble with the law.footnote1 Hope Builders calls them “opportunity youth,” and now, with the national economy expanding, preparing them for employment opportunities is all the more important.

Offering 12- to 20-week programs in construction, health care and information technology, Hope Builders also ensures young adults develop workforce readiness “soft” skills such as accountability, initiative, productivity, grit and leadership. Training is free, and trainees earn weekly stipends or hourly wages. And the support continues for up to two years after training ends, with guidance on staying employed, getting promoted or changing jobs.

As part of a $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, Bank of America is supporting the registered behavioral technician program, which Hope Builders provides in partnership with Santiago Canyon College. The training prepares students for an employment landscape that includes more than 15,000 projected openings in California for these positions alone during the next three years.


An Equity Profile of Orange County,” USCDornsife, PolicyLink and Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, March 2019.