A Chance to Advance

Towards Employment Capacity-Building Campaign 2022-2024

A campaign to support a national leader in workforce development.

A Chance to Advance is Towards Employment’s fundraising campaign to transform the lives of those living in poverty throughout Greater Cleveland and put them on a path to economic mobility.

Cleveland has consistently been named the poorest big city in the nation, and the least connected. To address issues of poverty and lack of opportunity, Towards Employment has become a national leader in workforce development that connects people to careers – not just jobs. We change people’s lives, advance businesses, and strengthen community in Northeast Ohio.

Towards Employment helps people overcome lack of opportunity, justice system involvement and other challenges to gain the skills and experience needed to advance towards a family-sustaining career. Our pathway of evidence-based, employer-driven training, and holistic support, coaching and mentorship, called WorkAdvance, helps people rise out of poverty and achieve economic mobility.

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 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

WorkAdvance 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 campaign goals?

We are reaching out to people who have supported Towards Employment to share the success of the WorkAdvance model, which will help thousands of 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.

Independence & Mobility

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; and resolve legal, housing, transportation, child care, behavioral health and financial barriers.

Career pathways skills training: upskilling and certification for high-demand fields (health care, CDL, manufacturing, IT)

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

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

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

Walter's Story

Towards Employment is a tool, you put the work in and you get good results. My results? I don’t have nightmares anymore – I have a dream coming true.”

Walter Walker

Donate Today!

Get started today to learn how you can become an advocate for equitable, sustainable workforce in Northeast Ohio.

Questions or want to learn more? Contact:
Adaora Schmiedl at aschmiedl@towardsemployment.org

Advance Team & Committees

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

Brent Carson

Doug Benjamin

Soad Mansour

Mark Mazanec

Shelly Peet

John Reynolds

Jill Rizika

Kathy Tatman

Kate Terrel

We salute these angel investors who stepped forward to create a matching gift fund that has launched the individual gifts portion of the campaign.

Advance Committee

Campaign Oversight and Primary Solicitation Partners

Honorary Committee

Community Leaders and TE Champions

Carrie Rosenfelt, Co-Chair
Melanie Webber, Co-Chair
Mike Coxon
Brian Lamb
Amy Richardson
Kathy Tatman

Bishara Addison
John Addison
Brent Carson
Walter Ginn
Shelly Peet
Kate Terrell