We champion the potential of every person to succeed in a meaningful career, while working to create an equitable and inclusive workforce for tomorrow. We do this through skill development, comprehensive support, innovative practices, and strong employer partnerships.
A dynamic world of work where all people - regardless of race, criminal history or where they live - have an opportunity to thrive.
We are a leading community-based workforce organization in Northeast Ohio, working to influence the wider system, regional economy, and local community through extensive expertise and trusted partnerships.
Towards Employment’s predecessor organization, Manpower Supportive Services, a program of Neighborhood Centers Association, was formed to develop and implement supportive services for people starting a new job. Services included bus tickets and other transportation supports, childcare, tools, boots, uniforms, health exams and eyeglasses. Soad Mansour was the founding Executive Director.
Manpower Supportive Services was rebranded as Towards Employment.
Towards Employment expands services to to provide job readiness training, job placement, and retention support for low-income Greater Cleveland residents who are transitioning off public assistance.
Soad Mansour, founder, retires after 20 years and a TE endowment is established in her honor.
Walter Ginn is hired as Executive Director.
Towards Employment adds a worksite based job retention model, ACHIEVE. This employer focused initiative brought Towards Employment recognition as a national leader in job retention support.
TE merged with Cleveland Works and added specific programming to assist individuals with prior criminal justice system involvement successfully enter the workforce.
Walter Ginn retires after 10 years. Under his leadership TE developed a dual customer approach, serving both individuals and employers. Jill Rizika is appointed as Executive Director after joining as Associate Director in 2003.
Towards Employment was selected to coordinate the Northeast Ohio implementation of WorkAdvance, a national, rigorous five-year pilot program that was also replicated in New York City and Tulsa. Supported by the federal Social Innovation Fund, and with local investment from the Fund for Our Economic Future, WorkAdvance delivered a continuum of aligned services to meet business needs and move low-income individuals onto manufacturing and health care career pathways.
TE received a multi-year direct grant from the United States Department of Labor to deliver career pathway programming for individuals returning from incarceration via work release programs or halfway houses. Cuyahoga County also recognized the importance of pre-release employment programming as a part of the reform work of the county jail and expands its partnership with TE and Ohio Means Jobs to deliver pre-release employment services.
Jill Rizika, TE’s Executive Director, was honored as one of 16 White House Reentry and Employment Champions of Change. Champions of Change is an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals across the nation doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their community. Per the White House, “The Champions have distinguished themselves through their extraordinary dedication and hard work to help those with criminal records reenter society with dignity and viable employment opportunities.”
The implementation results of WorkAdvance were released on a national and local level. Towards Employment partnered with The Fund for Our Economic Future to produce a local report with the local results and lessons learned (link to report).
Towards Employment opens Bloom Bakery, a social enterprise, focused on preparing individuals who face barriers to employment for a career in culinary arts, providing them with training and a path to self-sufficiency, producing high quality artisan baked goods, and creating meaningful individual career opportunities beyond Bloom so the Greater Cleveland community can prosper.
Towards Employment social venture Bloom Bakery closes after 4 years of business and training over 90 individuals in culinary/food service. Read more here.
Towards Employment receives $3 million DOL award to serve young adults and adults with former criminal justice involvement. The PACE program will serve the aforementioned populations and work to connect them to in-demand jobs (manufacturing, culinary/hospitality, construction, and IT) Read more here.
OUR 2022 IMPACT
REAL PEOPLE, REAL STORIES
"Towards Employment helps to build confidence. They gave me the reassurance that I can go a little bit further, that I can challenge myself to finish. They help remind people they’re not alone, that this is a process."
OUR CAREER PATHWAY model
Right job at the right time at the right place with seamless and comprehensive supports in place.
Deep understanding of employer needs that is responsive to hiring needs.
From the beginning of engagement, an employment plan focused on growing a career, not just a job.
Towards Employment connects people with jobs and companies with good workers. We provide the right service at the right time to address barriers, develop hard and soft skills, and gain the necessary experience to obtain a job and career.
In addition to job readiness training, our model provides supportive services that make a difference for individuals facing barriers to employment. We provide assistance for transportation, tools, and uniforms, and have a legal department that helps clear warrants, prevent evictions and foreclosures, addresses child support arrears, and clears debt. Most importantly, we provide career planning, coaching, and skill building through work experience and technical training so newly hired workers can succeed in their current job and then advance along a career pathway.
At the same time, we work with employers to provide training tailored to their needs and then source candidates that fill their talent gap. Over 300 employers have confidence in our proven training programs and personal coaching to prepare new and current employees for career success.
Towards Employment uses the WorkAdvance Model. This is a rigorously evaluated industry-driven Career Pathway model with proven results - the pilot demonstrated that comprehensive and aligned services helped 50 percent of the participants advance within two years, with an average hourly wage increase of over $2.
We work with partners and donors across sectors who believe in our mission and have witnessed the impact our work has in our community. Together, we partner to connect people to careers and support individuals on their path to self sufficiency.
Saint Luke's Foundation
KKR Covid Response Fund, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
The George Gund Foundation
Cuyahoga County Veterans Service Fund
Bank of America
The Nord Family Foundation
The Fund for Our Economic Future
The Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation
The Reinberger Foundation
Westfield Insurance Foundation
Fifth Third Foundation
Higley Fund, a supporting organization of the Cleveland Foundation
Nordson Corporation Foundation
The Thomas White Foundation
Third Federal Foundation
Eaton Charitable Fund
The Abington Foundation
Buckeye Health Plan
Thatcher Family Fund, a supporting organization of the Cleveland Foundation
The Frank Hadley Ginn & Cornelia Root Ginn Foundation, a supporting organization of the Cleveland Foundation
The Murphy Family Foundation
Union Home Mortgage Foundation
US Bank Foundation
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
CRAIN'S CLEVELAND WOMEN OF NOTE
Jill Rizika is a recipient of the 2019 Crain's Cleveland Women of Note Award.
DOMINION COMMUNITY IMPACT
A panel of community judges selects the winners of this award, supported by Dominion East Ohio. TE was awarded for funding in support of Bloom Bakery – Baking the Change in March of 2019.
BROWNS 10 DAYS OF GIVING 2018
Initiative by the Cleveland Browns to bring awareness to 10 local community partners that rally Cleveland together to make a difference.
2018 AJC ISAIAH AWARD FOR HUMAN RELATIONS
This award recognizes the extraordinary work of a local non-profit organizations which show significant initiative and leadership towards advancing intergroup understanding and respect.
SMART BUSINESS SMART 50
In June 2016, Jill Rizika was named one of the Smart Business Smart 50. The award celebrates the top executives of the 50 smartest companies in the region for their ability to effectively build and lead successful organizations.
DOMINION COMMUNITY IMPACT
A panel of community judges selects the winners of this award, supported by Dominion East Ohio. TE was awarded for funding in support of WorkAdvance in March of 2016.
Towards Employment received the 2015 WIRE-Net Mission Builder Award. Since 1990, WIRE-Net has honored manufacturing companies that have a positive impact on Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.