During our programs, youth take part in feeding, cleaning, and enrichment of homeless animals; facilitating community support and pet pantries that support local pet owners; field trips to animal welfare agencies and nature parks in Philadelphia; discussions and videos on addressing trauma and resilience in adverse life situations; mindfulness and animal assisted interventions; and job shadowing in the veterinary field.

All of our internship opportunities are paid opportunities for the participants.


  • 4-6 month program focusing on coping skills, interpersonal skills, goal planning and financial literacy (20-30 hours per week).
  • Goals/Objectives: Creating and managing career and personal goals, enhancing coping skills and decision making, developing strengths and personal skills and becoming lifelong animal advocates.
  • Participants: youth ages 18-24 years


  • 3-month paid program focusing on fostering connection and sense of community for young people through a weekly humane education curriculum that addresses conflict, communication, job and personal goals, as well as careers in animal welfare.
  • Goals/Objectives: Cultivating the skills to become lifelong animal advocates; creating kinder communities for people and animals; collaborating with young adults in identifying strengths and coping skills to navigate personal and professional settings.
  • Participants: youth ages 18-24 years


  • 6-week program focusing on helping youth develop job and personal skills for future employment. Youth assist in the caring and training of animals at the Hand2Paw office, while partaking in discussions, activities and field trips that provide a varied experience of animal welfare in Philadelphia.
  • Paid partnership through Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) & Achieving Independence Center (AIC).
  • Participants: youth ages 16-18 years


Stable housing is one of the best predictors of successful employment for youth (most youth do not seek or maintain employment while experiencing homelessness because their focus is on survival).

  • Recent empirical findings show an association between increased housing stability, increased probability of obtaining income from employment, and a decreased probability of obtaining income from survival behaviors, confirming that residential stability is an essential component in youth’s ability to obtain and maintain employment.

We are happy to report that in 2019:

Housing stability for program participants went from 25% at the start of the internship, to 63% upon completion of the program.

This outcome was attributed by the youth on post-program surveys and interviews to the employment and consistent income and support they derived from our program.

As a non-profit that is committed to growing and evolving our program, we utilize youth feedback as well as emerging science and models with a trauma-informed, strength-based, anti-oppressive focus; particularly those that discuss the importance of expanding concepts of workplaces that go beyond just a paycheck, and provide an environment of support, stability, and community necessary to evoke and inspire the minds of young people.

  • Upon graduating from our program, participants receive an Animal Welfare and Advocacy Certificate as well as a work skills certification, in accordance with PA Career Ready Skills (PA CRS).
  • Additionally, we assist youth in acquiring documentation necessary for future employment, complete FAFSA forms for school, tax returns, bank accounts, obtain government benefits and social services such as food and counseling services, as well as driver licenses and or/state documentation.

At first, just the paycheck. But later I cared about finding a home for each animal that was adopted. Hand2Paw has been more consistent than other programs. We made realistic goals and you didn’t waste our time. The program showed me that I can be committed to coming to work every day. It was a great atmosphere – there wasn’t too much stress. The internship showed me the positive results of me improving on my work skills.

Hand2Paw Intern

I view this program as different because I could feel the compassion and the genuine care for my success.

Hand2Paw Intern

I feel I have more confidence because I have maintained two jobs since being with Hand2Paw.

Hand2Paw Intern

I do believe that this program made an impact on me, a positive one, I will forever be changed because I went to this program. If you’re reading this and you work with Hand2Paw, Thank You.

Hand2Paw Intern

I thought that it helped that I was never quit on, I was always pushed to do more and that mentality that I always have to do more helped me in life.

Hand2Paw Intern

I feel my favorite thing about Hand2Paw so far is that it is a meeting space of healing & aiding the transitional periods of animals and those of humans, particularly youth. Hand2Paw provides an alternative to stressful shelters where animals & adopters aren’t moved by pity but rather compassion!

Hand2Paw Intern, 2019


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