Can this student-led startup solve homelessness? - Technical.ly Delaware

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Jul. 28, 2016 12:09 pm

Can this student-led startup solve homelessness?

The UD students behind Lazarus Rising see meaningful employment as the best solution.

The Lazarus Rising team (left to right): Nate Hamilton, Jim Celia, Matt Rojas, Matt Sobel, Eric Albers.

(Courtesy photo)

We’ve heard the Kevin Spacey quote, “If you’ve done well, it’s your obligation to spend a good portion of your time sending the elevator back down.” These University of Delaware students are doing just that; they’re helping the homeless get off the streets by helping them find jobs.

Students and cofounders Matt Rojas and Matt Sobel found a need for their service when they were volunteering at a homeless shelter. They were providing people experiencing homelessness with food, clothing and a place to stay but there was no longterm help — by way of employment assistance — to be found.

Both Rojas and Sobel incorporated Lazarus Rising last year and brought Eric Albers on this year. Their hope is to expand their initiatives through college chapters. The nonprofit is composed of a team of five: Rojas is the CEO, Sobel is the COO, Jim Celia is the CFO, Nate Hamilton is the CTO and Albers is the CIO.

“Our mission is to get homeless people back into meaningful employment,” said Albers, who is currently enrolled in UD’s Summer Founders Program.

Albers recalls one of their very first cases: a man who was homeless for over six months. He had been applying for jobs for over eight months and wasn’t getting anywhere. So the team looked at his résumé. It was six pages long. They helped him rewrite it and coached him through the interview process. The man became employed within a week and was able to move into his own apartment within a few weeks of his employment.

“Everything besides taking them to the actual interviewer,” Albers said of the help Lazarus Rising offers. “Getting them ready for every point of view in every aspect, address any problems in their work history. If they have gaps, if they’ve been incarcerated.”

Lazarus Rising has chapters at the University of Denver, Binghamton University and Stony Brook University. The team has plans to expand to more college campuses in the future.

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