Hand Up

Hand Up“I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for Hand Up’s job services, which have been the pivotal piece for getting me the job. Not just a job that will get me by, but my dream job in my dream field – a job that will open doors for the rest of my life. You stood beside me, helped me to not be afraid of my own success and today I feel like a whole new human being. I now feel so excited about my future, where I wasn’t even a month ago. I will never be able to thank you enough. ~Jennifer, Hand Up Graduate

Program Start (2008) To Date:
Helped secure 455 part-time and full-time jobs for homeless and near-homeless program participants

Mission Statement:

The Hand Up program empowers homeless and near-homeless men, women and families to obtain employment, move forward and escape homelessness. The goal of the program is to help participants regain self-sufficiency, but our emphasis is employment. We meet participants “where they are” to help them transition from (a) unemployed to employed, (b) stuck to unstuck and (c) homeless to self-sufficient. More specifically, we support participants in at least one of three ways:

  • Employment: we help homeless and near-homeless job seekers develop the tools that they need to effectively search and apply for work, and we form partnerships with socially-conscious businesspeople who, in some cases, hire our program participants.
  • Problem Solving: we provide short-term support that helps participants return to and move forward along the path to self-sufficiency.  Sometimes that support is tangible (an item, for example), and other times it is less tangible (brainstorming to solve a problem, for example). In each case, however, it is designed to help the participant become “unstuck.”
  • Intensive Case Management: In some cases we pair participants with volunteer advocates and then work alongside those advocates to provide intensive, long-term case management. Simply put: we support our participants as they transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency.  Almost all of the participants, at some level, take advantage of additional mentoring and coaching available to help them on their path towards achieving their goals.  We truly build relationships which fosters connection, which in turn allows and encourages progress and ultimately personal successes towards the end goal of self sufficiency.

Participant Overview:

“Hand Up gave me all the resources I needed. That’s the bottom line. Hand Up gave me everything I needed to be successful at finding a job and getting into a home.” –Nick, Hand Up Participants

What to expect from working with Hand Up:

When you first come to meet with the Employment Advocate at Hand Up, you will sit down in a one on one session to support you to move forward in your job search. The Employment Advocate will gather some information about you in an effort to see what your job/career goals are, what your strengths are and what is making it difficult to gain employment. The Employment Advocate will then support your progress by sharpening existing tools and working to provide resources and solutions to whatever barriers are in your way.

Then the Employment Advocate will make sure that you have a good ‘tool kit’ to obtain employment and will support you to do a self-paced job search. The tools that we are talking about are as follows: We want to see that you know how to look for jobs, how to appeal to employers, that you have a strong resume, cover letter and references, as well as solid interview skills.

During the self-paced job search (track one), the Employment Advocate will be there every step of the way to answer questions, offer suggestions and ideas, as well as useful resources such as bus passes, interview clothing and much more.

For many of the folks that come to access services at Hand Up, the support provided by the Employment Advocate is enough to gain that job offer. But for those people who complete the track one, but did not gain employment, there is another option. We are pleased to have connections with wonderful businesses in town (see Proud Partners) who, when appropriate, share opportunities with us that we can match with job seekers with relevant skills (track two). We always strive to make these connections a win-win for both the job seeker and the employer.

For people who make a commitment to Hand Up, just about 9 out of 10 are successful in gaining a job offer.

How much does it cost to participate?

All services that Hand Up offers to our participants are COMPLETELY FREE!

Career Center:

Benefits for Hiring a Hand Up Participant

“Hand Up brings employees to companies that can really make a difference in the company, but what a difference it makes in the lives of individuals.” –David Wasson, Owner of Valley Steel & Wire

  • Pre-screened job applicants
    All participants of the Hand Up program have been mentored and coached and acquire an understanding of how to both gain and maintain employment.
  • A source of “super motivated” job applicants
  • The folks referred from Hand Up have shown that they are extremely motivated to not only obtain employment, but to also perform at a high level to meet the needs of both employers and customers alike.  These are people who can really appreciate the life changing opportunity that employment will offer them.
  • A support team to work with the new employee.  Even after we have successfully placed a candidate with a hiring partner or the candidate finds employment using the resume created and skills learned in the program, we often continue to coach and support them on their continued journey into self sufficiency.  This support increases their chances of success in both the work place and in their personal goals as well.
  • Community Philanthropy combined with the routine task of filling job opportunities
    Homelessness is a community issue. The reasons that contribute to the problem of homelessness are vast and complex. For every homeless person there is a unique and individual reason why that person is homeless.  While no single solution will offer a panacea to homelessness in Fort Collins, Hand Up offers businesses an opportunity to join the cause. Given that homelessness affects the well-being of our community, it behooves businesses to take a vested interested in our homeless neighbors. Businesses that hire Hand Up candidates not only take part in an effort to improve upon our community, but also fill important employment needs.  In an effort to promote the spirit of our program, Hand Up promotes and acknowledges our partner agencies on our web site and we also strive to encourage the community to recognize businesses that care.

Doug’s Success Story:


Doug was living in an unstable, unsafe environment with his 11-year-old daughter. His daughter was unhappy and struggling in school and Doug’s only work was temporary labor. He was having a tough time paying bills, keeping a roof over his head, and providing for his daughter.

In an effort to find some stability for himself and his daughter, Doug enrolled in Hand Up. He did very well throughout the education and screening phase.  He improved his résumé, sharpened his interview skills, and showed that he was motivated and hard working. After completing the education and screening phase, he applied at the Fort Collins Hilton, one of our partner organizations. Doug was hired after doing well in the interview process and has been stably employed there for more than nine months.

The Fort Collins Hilton provided Doug with a mentor to guide him through his newfound life. He and his mentor, David, have formed a strong bond and the relationship has proven to be an asset in Doug’s life.  He recently received a promotion and is now living in stable and safe housing.  Furthermore Doug was recognized as the Hilton’s Associate of the Year for his dedication and service! His daughter is much happier and is doing well in school.  With the support of Hand Up, Doug has effectively moved from poverty to stability.


Contact Information:

Phone: 970-316-4037

Email: Linda@HomelessGear.org

Mailing Address: 1305 Duff Drive Unit 5, Fort Collins, CO 80524

We get a lot of sales pitches in this world today and I think we have to glean through those to find the ones that make a difference. In my mind, Hand Up is one of those at the top. It’s just a win-win proposition. – David Wasson, Owner of Valley Steel & Wire, Hand Up Business Partner