2021 Annual Event: A Chance To Advance

Giving Cleveland a Chance to Advance

What does Towards Employment do?

Towards Employment helps people overcome poverty, justice system involvement and other challenges in their lives to gain the skills and experience needed to connect to a family sustaining career. Our evidence based, employer-driven training and holistic support, coaching and mentorship combine to lift people out of poverty and towards self-sufficiency.

What are the challenges we address?

The most recent MIT Living Wage Calculator figured a living wage for a household comprised of one adult and one child in Cuyahoga County was 237% higher than minimum wage. In 2021 the minimum wage in the state of Ohio is $8.80 per hour. In 2023, with a rise in the minimum wage in the state of Ohio to $10.10 per hour, those wages still only reach less than 50% of a living wage.

What makes our solutions special?

Towards Employment uses a nationally-recognized model called WorkAdvance,

which has proven through research to be effective in increasing earnings of low-income Clevelanders, including individuals with criminal justice involvement, young adults aging out of foster care, and veterans with barriers to employment. With this model, not only does Towards Employment focus on placing and sustaining people in good-paying jobs, but it also provides holistic wrap-around services to help address the “social determinants of work” such as housing insecurity, transportation and legal issues. It also builds critical life skills like financial literacy. Addressing these issues enhances prospects for job retention and advancement.


What are our future goals?




Million Raised
for Programming


Million Earned
by Grads

Towards Employment is seeking $3.7 million in private support through the Chance to Advance campaign to extend WorkAdvance programming to every person who comes to us for assistance.

We are reaching out to people who have supported Towards Employment to share the success of the WorkAdvance model, which will help 3,000 low-income Clevelanders over the next three years.

We project the return on investment to be that graduates will earn more than $21 million in above-minimum average wages over the next 3 years.

Bottom line? Employers have better prepared workers. Workers have more economic mobility. End result, the whole community is stronger.

How would my support help?

Independence & Mobility

Goal: $2.2 Million

To bolster training, certification, and coaching pathways.

Pre-training preparation and resolution of barriers: funding to provide services and “soft-skills” training before being placed in training programs.
Career pathways skills training: upskilling and certification for high-demand fields (health care, CDL, manufacturing, IT or
Continued coaching: unique to the WorkAdvance model is 12 months of coaching post placement to achieve career
advancement and family-sustaining wages.

Infrastructure & The Future of Work

Goal: $500,000

To enhance our mobile and virtual infrastructure.

Addressing the digital divide: access to Chromebooks, hot spots and technology training.
Curriculum development: creating curriculum for Google classrooms and industry specific remote trainings.
Upgrading TE technology: cyber security, digitally-enhanced classrooms, and an upgraded database to better serve candidates and graduates.

Innovation & Capacity

Goal: $1 Million

To allow us to invest in new approaches and build partnerships.

Agility in responding to partners or grant opportunities: funding to pilot new programs is critical in an ever-changing market.
Social enterprise and earned revenues: developing additional revenue streams impacts our sustainability.

A Chance to Advance: Case for Support

Your Chance to make a Difference

Committees & Honorees

The following individuals are committed to advancing the local workforces through expertise or financial commitment. Together, we are moving towards a more equitable future.

Advance Team

John Reynolds
Kathy Tatman
Shelly Peet
Soad Mansour
Brent Carson
Kate Terrell
Jill Rizika
Mark Mazanec
Doug Benjamin

Advance Committee

Melanie Webber, Chair
Mike Coxon
Brian Lamb
Carrie Rosenfelt
Kathy Tatman

Honorary Committee

Brent Carson
Jennifer Hurd
Anne Meyers
Shelly Peet
Kate Terrell