Prioritize • Promote • Preserve • Protect • Provide


The HOPE Initiative is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides a unique system of support and partnerships to carry out its mission to provide equal access to educational and workforce opportunities for individuals living in under-resourced communities.

In serving individuals who might not otherwise have access to college, career and life readiness without our help, we improve educational equality and remove barriers to college completion and career opportunities.


We envision promoting positive change by partnering with other nonprofit organizations and business and philanthropic stakeholders to create a culture where educational opportunities empower individuals and improve the quality of life for the communities we serve.

Core Values:

The HOPE Initiative values human capital, innovation and data; putting our faith in partners and supporters to assist us in delivering programs and services to landscapes locally, regionally, nationally and globally anchoring the work we do in these core values:

Commitment to Continuous Improvement – Through strategic planning, we intentionally evaluate and analyze our programs, data, and partnerships for maximum productivity.

Power of Partnership – We thrive on collaborating and working with communities, students, partners, and donors to build a foundation for success.

Spirit of Achievement – We strive to position everyone we touch with the tools, resources, opportunities and networks necessary to navigate through college graduation, and into the 21st century workforce.

Leadership Team:

Dr. Robert C.K. Harper, Ed. D, Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Robert Harper is the Founder and President of The HOPE Initiative and Executive Director of Beyond Change. Prior to launching his nonprofit organization, Dr.  Harper worked as an administrator in higher education for over 15 years. His professional experiences include serving as Executive Dean of StudentEngagement  and Retention at Eastfield College. He served as the Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Texas College. He was the Associate Vice President for  Student Affairs and the Director of Enrollment Management at Jarvis Christian College. And, at Northeast Texas Community College, he served as the Director of  Student Development and Diversity, Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Coordinator of Instructional Technology. Dr. Harper's mission is to address social injustice, inequality, and educational disparities through the lens of college, career and life readiness. It is his belief that facilitating collaborative and equitable  partnerships with underserved students, law enforcement, community stakeholders, and city leaders can lead to power-sharing processes to prepare students for life beyond high school and the 21st century workforce.

As a leader in higher education and an advocate for social justice, he maintains strong ties to the community and strives to enhance The HOPE Initiative's relationships with public and private organizations. Through his co-producing approach to leadership, he has a reputation for leveraging collaborative partnerships with businesses, police departments, government officials, school districts, and colleges to promote positive change. Dr. Harper is described as an innovative leader with sound strategic planning skills to solve complex problems. He is known for being a dynamic visionary and is well positioned throughout the academy and in the community.

Over the past 4 years, Dr. Harper has built a team of committed police officers and former NFL players and implemented a social justice program to support the NFL Inspire Change Initiative and the NFL Foundation Social Justice Matching Grant Program. His joint effort strategy has contributed to many notable relationships and  partnerships. These include collaborating with the City of Linden, Texas and the Linden Police Department on enhancing police-community relations, working with  Texas 4-H extension agents on college and career readiness, providing social justice programming for Historically Black College and Universities, and becoming an NFL Alumni Enterprise member.

A native of East Texas, Dr. Harper's educational background includes an Ed.D. in Developmental Education from Grambling State University, a M.Ed. and Ed.S. in Educational Leadership and Instruction from Northwestern State University of Louisiana and a B.S. in Business Administration from Louisiana State University-Shreveport.

Jolie Bernard, Chief Impact Officer

Jolie Bernard is a communications professional with over twenty years of experience in the industry. She is synonymous with giving selflessly and working tirelessly to create meaningful, purposeful, and impactful engagements. She is also an architect of conditions that create positive outcomes and change forothers. Bernard is a results-driven collaborator with proven success in building strong and progressive relationships between stakeholders, government and institutional leaders,  executives, communities, organizations, and individuals regionally, nationally, and globally while prioritizing business growth and returns on investments.

As the Chief Impact Officer for The HOPE Initiative, Bernard provides strategic leadership, management, and guidance to the CEO and ensures the goals and objectives of the organization are achieved by producing and directing the development, implementation, and evaluation of programs and external communications to advance our mission and create viable landscape impact through our scope of work and activities. Grounded by her responsibility to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the efforts of The HOPE Initiative and focused on diversifying opportunities to anchor a sustainable nonprofit model, she works to ensure the continuous evaluation, continuity, and effectiveness of programs and services to secure maximum donor engagement as well as generate positive community reaction, response, and participation.

Bernard is passionate about servant leadership and is always looking for an opportunity to cultivate and foster relationships that prioritize the ability to develop and support comprehensive young people - giving them the ability to transcend circumstances that are difficult to go on to realize his or her greatest potential.

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