Nonprofit spotlight: Helping Young Professionals Excel

HYPE board members

What does a fresh out of college 20-something have in common with an entrepreneur who has three decades of business experience? They both spend the first Wednesday of every month at a HYPE meeting.

HYPE, which stands for Helping Young Professionals Excel, was created in 2012 with the express purpose of doing exactly what it says in the title; facilitating interactions between young professionals looking to enter into the workforce in Clark County.

Sara Scheetz, president of HYPE, explained the benefits of being a part of the organization and attending its monthly meetings in a few simple words: “networking, casual and free.”

“I always tell people it’s open, causal networking; we accept everyone,” said Scheetz. “We have people who are 21-22, fresh out of college, and people who have been working in Clark County for 30 years – and it’s completely free.”

Scheetz, who is also vice president of At Your Place Senior Care, added that walk-ins are welcome and encouraged to come.

The meetings are held on the first Wednesday of every month at different locations around Clark County. Entrepreneurs and businesses may sponsor the event, which gives them a few minutes to speak about their business or group.

Scheetz said HYPE’s meetings are “a safe place to practice your 30-second elevator speech.”

HYPE reaches out not only to businesses and professionals, but also to nonprofit organizations.

The group, formerly known as YPOV (Young Professionals of Vancouver) was re-branded last year by Scheetz and Marci White-Stumpf, HYPE’s current secretary, into the organization it is today.

“Helping nonprofits was a goal of YPOV, but not a priority, and we wanted to change that,” said Scheetz.

Before 2008, when she first began to volunteer and work with local not-for-profit groups, Scheetz had no idea how much nonprofits depended on the business community.

Each month, HYPE sponsors a nonprofit in the area. This month’s sponsor is the Boys and Girls Club. Previously, HYPE has sponsored groups like the Clark County Food Bank and Empower Up, a group that recycles old computers, printers and other electronics.

Scheetz added that HYPE will be partnering with the Northwest Association for Blind Athletes to help create a fundraiser in June of 2014.

Bryce Davidson, a HYPE attendee since 2012, became heavily involved in getting the nonprofit Junior Achievement sponsored by HYPE. He encouraged members to volunteer for organization, which teaches financial literacy to students between grade-school to high school ages. From that point, Davidson has been active in HYPE’s outreach to nonprofits when not working at his day job with Davidson and Associates Insurance.

“I view HYPE as a way to connect with nonprofits I don’t know,” he said.

Davidson, a former Clark County resident who returned to the area in 2012, said HYPE fills a need in the community.

“It was a very welcoming place for me, coming back after 12 years… HYPE recognized that there’s a need to help people who are starting out in the community, and there are people who can and will mentor them,” he said.

Davidson was recently invited to join HYPE’s Board of Directors.

Scheetz and Davidson both said that the ultimate goal for HYPE is to be able to provide scholarships for members looking to return to school.

“The scholarship would be more tailored to the people who are continuing their education, going to get their masters or changing their line of work,” Scheetz said.

“The two biggest inhibitions to going back to school are time and cost, and if we can remove one of those, then that’s huge,” she added.

Organizers hope to have a scholarship available by the end of 2014. Coming up with the money to do that remains the biggest challenge for the volunteer-based group, Scheetz noted.

“That’s why being sponsored by businesses and having fundraisers is so important,” she concluded. “Ultimately, all three groups need to be connected: professionals, businesses and nonprofits. Networking is how they connect, and how they succeed.”

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