4 National Models Come to CLE


For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Adaora Schmiedl


Towards Employment helps bring four innovative national models to Cleveland: Grow with Google, Employer Resource Network®, Financial Opportunity Center® and a Workforce Leadership Academy.

December 22, 2022 - CLEVELAND – This year, Towards Employment has been part of several successful initiatives that bring national resources to Clevelanders in need.


In November, Towards Employment was awarded a Grow with Google grant designed to provide digital economic opportunities for people impacted by incarceration.  Support here in Cleveland will be used by Towards Employment to assist new job candidates who need additional help to prepare for career readiness training; and to help more established TE alumni to refresh existing skills or build additional business skills to advance.  For more about this grant, Google, and the Grow with Google partnership, see



In October, Towards Employment was selected as the lead agency for the NEO Employer Resource Network® or ERN. The ERN® is an employer collaborative that pools resources to provide an on-the-job success coach who helps with work/life issues to all employees. For businesses that join the collaborative, the success coach works on site to a) address many of the social determinants of work that can cause stress and derail a worker's performance, b) provide financial literacy and other essential training and connect workers.  This support for people and business has seen remarkable success in other markets – like retention rates over 90%.  We are proud to help bring this model into the NEO market. The Employer Resource Network® is a registered trademark of ERN USA. Read more about the national and Ohio ERNs at  https://www.towardsemployment.org/employers/#ERN


This summer, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), with grant support from the Cleveland Foundation, announced the launch of a new Financial Opportunity Center® (FOC) network in Greater Cleveland that will connect unemployed and underemployed residents to quality jobs and financial resources to aid in economic recovery and advance financial stability for residents. LISC is providing three local nonprofit partners with financial support through operating grants, technical assistance and training, a shared data system for program management and evaluation, and ongoing peer learning through a national network of over 130 partner sites.  The goal is to help residents increase their incomes, improve credit, and build long-term wealth for their family. The cornerstone of the FOC model is providing integrated services, with a long-term commitment to helping clients reach their goals, while simultaneously narrowing racial wealth gaps. Towards Employment is thrilled to be one of the nonprofits selected.  The FOC located at Towards Employment will support a full-time financial coach to provide individualized coaching that evolves as a graduate’s progress along their career pathway. For more about the Cleveland Financial Opportunity Centers, visit



And, also in November, Cleveland was chosen as a site for a Workforce Leadership Academy, by the Aspen Institute after a nationally competitive process.  The Ohio Workforce Coalition, with local partner Northeast Ohio Workforce Coalition (NEOWC) will lead the implementation of the Academy.  NEOWC is staffed by Towards Employment and convenes workforce stakeholders to align programming across systems, identify shared issues, and grow local capacity. The Leadership Academy is a 10-month, peer learning cohort of workforce leaders which enables them to expand and deepen professional networks and partnerships, strengthen organizational and systems leadership skills, apply a race and equity lens to assess and improve workforce services, apply a systems change framework to their work, and deepen understanding of effective strategies and programs. This spring, Cleveland Fellows will be selected through a competitive application process led by a local advisory council.  To apply or find more information see https://www.towardsemployment.org/policy_advocacy/#neowc

Towards Employment Board Chair Brent Carson notes: “These initiatives are in line with our strategic plan that pushes our team to focus on innovation and to pilot new approaches that help improve and/or build the workforce field.”  Jill Rizika, President & CEO, agrees, “From providing work-based coaching, to evolving financial coaching to build wealth, to expanding online tools for career development, to building workforce leadership – all of these collaborations add depth to our services and make access to family sustaining wages and quality jobs a reality for more of our citizens.”




About Towards Employment: Our mission is to empower individuals to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through employment. Towards Employment is a proven leader in workforce development that connects people to careers, which changes people’s lives, advances businesses, and strengthens community in Northeast Ohio. Learn more about our work at www.towardsemployment.org.