Utah Community Builders, the social impact foundation of the Salt Lake Chamber, has long been an organization designed to lift up communities and inspire positive change from within. In 2020, an initiative called Hope Corps was created as a direct response to the coronavirus pandemic. The initial goal was to assist and lift the businesses and nonprofits of Utah that were hit hard by the pandemic. Hope Corps accomplished this by pairing college-aged Utahns — many of whom had their jobs or internships displaced due to the pandemic — with local businesses, nonprofits, and other community organizations to fill vital needs.

Now, Hope Corps has relaunched with an enhanced mission: to support the business community’s efforts to improve workforce mental health, promote family friendly workplace policies, and strengthen upward mobility for Utahns in poverty.

At the initiative’s beginning, UCB recruited and placed Hope Corps interns with 10 organizations throughout the state. Each intern came from one of Utah’s major universities, and their work focused on one or more of the three primary focuses of Utah Community Builders: mental health, child care, and poverty.

Mental Health
Three interns were assigned to the mental health priority, with one intern placed at SafeLane Health, Utah State Bar, and Blomquist Hale Solutions. The Hope Corps intern working with these organizations aided in the outreach and engagement with other businesses to help provide mental health related resources to more employers. They also helped with communication and internal operations efforts.

Family Friendly Work
Three more interns focused on family friendly work and childcare efforts and were placed with United Way of Salt Lake, the Utah Child Care Cooperative, and FutureComp. These interns helped coordinate volunteers to spend time in local schools, set up a child care program, and even interfaced with child care providers in Utah, increasing their interactions and allowing services to become available for more businesses.

“I have learned a lot so far in this process. I have learned the importance of childcare policies and what a necessity it is,” said Rachel Brown, a student from Snow College and the intern placed with the Utah Child Care Cooperative. “It really is something that we need to learn more about and make a change.”

Poverty and Upward Mobility
Seven interns made strides for the upward mobility initiative, where they were placed with the Weber Prosperity Center of Excellence, the Snow College Small Business Center, USU’s Entrepreneurship Department, and the Utah Valley Chamber. These interns focused on upward mobility, interfacing between the business community and poverty efforts, providing access to impoverished families to job training and resources, connecting Spanish-speaking residents with job training opportunities and resources and more.

Camila Cardinali, a student at Snow College and Hope Corps intern with Snow College’s Small Business Development Center, explained that she is grateful for the Hope Corps program for providing the opportunity to be a part of something bigger. She said, “I am learning and growing a lot through the work I am doing, and I get to see the community benefit from these opportunities.”

The Hope Corps program already has plans to continue for future semesters and connect more Utah students with the opportunity to lift up their communities. To learn more about the program or Utah Community Builders, contact ndunn@slchamber.com.