Toward Employment's

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.

We believe in a dynamic world of work where all people - regardless of race, justice system involvement, or where they live - have an opportunity to thrive.


2023 Statistics

1,770 People

Served in varying points of their multi-year career pathway.

433 People

Accessed credentialed training or paid on-the-job training.

509 People

Placed into employment, 226 with a criminal record.


Average starting wage for TE participants, $4.50 above OH minimum wage.

78% Retention

average job retention at 90 days, when employees are most susceptible to job loss.

155 Advanced

on the job with an average wage increase of over $2/hr.


Average advanced wage.

1,856 Supportive Services

received, including legal assistance.



Towards Employment was founded in 1976 and was in downtown Cleveland until October of 2022, when we relocated to the St Clair-Superior neighborhood.


In 2004 Towards Employment merged with Cleveland Works and added specific programming to assist individuals with prior criminal justice system involvement to successfully enter the workforce.


In 2011 Towards Employment was selected to coordinate the NEO implementation of WorkAdvance, an innovative national workforce initiative also replicated in New York City and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Initially supported by the federal Social Innovation Fund, with local investment from the Fund for Our Economic Future, WorkAdvance delivers a continuum of aligned services to meet business needs and successfully moves people onto industry specific career pathways and towards economic mobility.

Real People, Real Stories


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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 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.

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.


Saint Luke's Foundation
KKR Covid Response Fund, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
TCF Bank
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 Abington Foundation
Buckeye Health Plan
Callahan Foundation
Cleveland Votes
Huntington Bank
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 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
Bruening Foundation
Eaton Charitable Fund
The Murphy Family Foundation
Union Home Mortgage Foundation
US Bank Foundation

This list of foundation and corporate donors is current as of September 22, 2022.
If you do not see your name, please contact Adaora Schmiedl at