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 345 part-time and full-time jobs for homeless and near-homeless program participants

Mission Statement:

Hand Up is comprised of two tracks: “Employment” and “Transitions.” Each track has its own mission statement:

“Employment” Track:
Hand Up empowers Larimer County’s homeless and low-income neighbors to achieve self-sufficiency by providing a personalized pathway to gain and maintain employment.

“Transitions” Track:
To provide highly-motivated, single homeless women with intensive, personalized and regular support as they navigate the path to self-sufficiency.

From our streets…to our workforce.

Watch our video, learn more and get involved!

Facts and Statistics:

  • Hand Up was founded in 2008.
  • The median duration of unemployment in the United States is about 20 weeks. Among those who found work with Hand Up’s support, the median participant was unemployed for less than 5 weeks.
  • We have helped to secure 345 full or part time jobs for homeless or low-income individuals and families!
  • Among Hand Up’s participants, about 1 in 5 is a military veteran, 1 in 4 has dependent children, and more than half have at least some college education.

“Employment” Track

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 Graduate 2010

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 do I get started?

We invite you to come to any of our educational classes (See below) or to contact us directly to set up a one-on-one appointment.  Contact Us!

How much does it cost to participate?

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

Resources for Participants:

Career Center:

Hand Up Classes:
*No registration required for the classes

Computer Classes are available at the Salvation Army, located at 3901 South Mason Street. Please call the Salvation Army at 970.207.4472 for more information.

  • Computer Basics
  • Beyond Basics
  • Email & Internet

Employment education and job preparation classes are offered at the Murphy Center for Hope
Located at 242 Conifer Street – 970.316.4037

  • Job Preparation Classes – Every Wednesday at 9am
    • Applications
    • Resumes
    • Cover Letter
    • Interview Skills
  • Breaking Down Barriers Class to assist job seekers in overcoming a felony – Every 4th Thursday of the month from 1-2:30pm

Benefits for Hiring a Hand Up Graduate

“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 graduates of Hand Up have completed a rigorous screening process that includes a significant educational component that is intended to give graduates an understanding of how to both gain and maintain employment. The screening process also includes drug and alcohol screening, computer classes, workshops and other tools to prepare participants to hit the ground running.
  • A source of “super motivated” job applicants
  • The folks that graduate 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.
  • A support team to work with the new employee.
  • 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. And 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 graduates 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:


One example of a Hand Up graduate gaining success through the program is a single father named Doug. 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.

“Transitions” Track

Program Overview

The Transitions track of the Hand Up program is designed to provide single, homeless women with intensive support as they navigate the path from homelessness to self-sufficiency. There are two roles in the Transitions track: “Advocate” and “Partner.”

Program Partners (single, homeless women) are referred to Homeless Gear through other agencies and other Homeless Gear programs. Every Partner is assigned to a Homeless Gear staff person and a team of two Advocates (volunteers from the community).

Each Partner meets regularly with the Homeless Gear employee to (a) assess the Partner’s progress, (b) identify the Partner’s needs, strengths and limitations, (c) establish goals and (d) develop an action plan to achieve those goals. At the same time, the Advocates work and meet regularly with their Partner to ensure that she has the resources she needs to achieve her goals. Plans vary widely from week-to-week, but the end goal is always the same: to help the Partner escape homelessness and regain self-sufficiency.

Because the process is intended to provide a high a level of support to single, homeless women, spots are limited. We maintain a caseload of no more than six Partners, and we reserve those spots for individuals who are highly motivated to regain self-sufficiency.

Get Involved!

Homeless Gear is recruiting volunteers to join its Transitions Advocacy Program! As an “Advocate,” you and a teammate will – under the guidance of our professional staff – provide personalized and regular support to one homeless woman as she navigates the path to self-sufficiency. This is an amazing and unique opportunity to make a tangible, positive and lasting impact in the life of a single homeless person. Volunteers must be 18+ and commit to at least six months of service at approximately three hours per week.

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 thorough 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