Our mission is simple. Heart of Oregon Corps empowers youth and young adults through employment, job training, education, and service to Central Oregon communities.
Our vision is clear. Heart of Oregon Corps is a leader in empowering youth and young adults to transform their lives and their communities. Through this work, we will create a future with equitable opportunities in Central Oregon.
Heart of Oregon Corps’ six programs engage 225 youth annually in meaningful, growth-filled workforce development and educational opportunities that help address the negative impacts of poverty. We primarily serve low-to-moderate income Opportunity Youth ages 16-24 who are disconnected from school and work but are ready to thrive when given adequate support. With the goal of career readiness, HOC programs provide training in conservation, construction, childcare, and customer service. Since its inception over 20 years ago, HOC has grown into a nonprofit leader with programs and projects in Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson, and northern Klamath counties, including the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
HOC’s dynamic programs follow our WORK, EARN, LEARN model - an effective solution to re-engaging Opportunity Youth.
- Youth WORK on meaningful, hands-on projects that benefit the Central Oregon community, such as public lands conservation, wildfire fuels reduction, building affordable housing, providing childcare for local families, operating a thrift store, and recycling. All projects offer job skills training, structured and supportive supervision, and positive adult role models.
- Youth are employed, often for the first time, as they EARN wages, stipends, and scholarships that increase economic self-sufficiency and financial literacy. Because youth live where they work, most of their wages are poured directly back into the local economy.
- Our young people LEARN 21st-century workforce soft skills and leadership skills, gain vocational certifications, and have the opportunity to earn high school credits and diplomas, GEDs, or take a college course. Youth explore career paths, apprenticeships, and local post-secondary options.
We have been a vital part of the Central Oregon community for over 20 years. We were founded by three change-makers who sought to serve a growing number of youth experiencing significant barriers to success. We have continued to grow with the help of our funders, donors, and community volunteers that make our mission possible. Through all these years our purpose still remains the same: bring services to the young people who need them.
Founders Dennis, Dave, and Dan held a strong belief that young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds deserved a chance to earn their way to success. Dave worked with Deschutes County Juvenile Justice and saw countless youth offenders struggle with their circumstances. For a variety of reasons, many were lacking viable options and the support and encouragement to pursue them. Our founders set out to create such an option, thinking, "why not show young people they can be a force for good in their community instead of a destructive one?" Through a restorative justice approach, they established a community service-based program that evolved to include job skills training and continuing education.
Over the past two decades, 4,750 HOC youth have built 36 affordable homes, improved 48,000 acres of public lands, and earned $2 million+ in AmeriCorps scholarships. Our critical career readiness training and education services empower youth to seek opportunities and become leaders within their communities. Heart of Oregon Corps trains tomorrow's workforce today.