EmpowerU (formerly known as Domestic Worker Empowerment Project) is a nonprofit educational and empowerment platform created through a partnership of HKU professors and students. Hong Kong is home to over 385,000 domestic workers who represent 10% of the city’s working population. These workers, most of whom are women, lack the tools to further their education and economic empowerment. Working with educational institutions, civil society partners, and companies, EmpowerU has developed practical curricula to prepare migrant and domestic workers for brighter futures and connect these workers to a broader social impact network. They leverage technology to provide access to excellent, on-demand educational content and cultivate online communities and networking. EmpowerU started by using empty university facilities on the weekends, and it obtained computers and dress suits for the program's students and received management support through grants and social incubators. Additionally, EmpowerU raised over $5,000 USD through crowdfunding. Programmatic activities are supported primarily by HKU student interns who benefit from learning about the hardships domestic workers face. Participants pay a small fee to cover the administrative expenses of the program. In 2020, EmpowerU expanded its proven educational model to serve the needs of Hong Kong’s ethnic minority populations.
In light of COVID-19, EmpowerU continued using their remote learning tools and supported domestic workers who may lack the resources and supplies to effectively protect themselves from COVID-19. Specifically, they developed a series of video-workshops on COVID-19 safety. They also offered a workshop on mental health and resiliency amidst the COVID-19 crisis for EmpowerU students.
Theory of Change
Tailored education through a unique impact-based program provides marginalized youth and migrant workers with skills and networks that empower them to lead their communities and households into better futures.
EmpowerU’s EmpowerED program provides multi-year online and in-person classes to migrant workers on their health, legal, financial, and career development. These classes focus on skills building, such as CPR & AED training, fire safety, media studies, public speaking, child and elderly care, and more. Additionally, EmpowerU runs an Ethnic Minority Youth program to provide impact-based and community-led education specifically targeted for this population. The program relies mostly on an online platform to affords young people the opportunity to explore new career options, develop an active professional network, and learn how to become impact leaders. Through both educational programs, EmpowerU aims to provide a life-long support network that increases cross-cultural understanding and inclusion.
Over 1,500 students have enrolled in EmpowerED programs so far. EmpowerU has delivered 800 lesson hours and granted about a thousand certificates. Working with other organizations, such as the Foundation for Social Impact and Migrasia Global Solutions, EmpowerU has expanded to nine courses over the past three years.