History

Since 1976, Towards Employment has empowered over 200,000 people to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through employment.

1976

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.

1988

Manpower Supportive Services was rebranded as Towards Employment.

1992

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.

1996

Soad Mansour, founder, retires after 20 years and a TE endowment is established in her honor. 

1996

Walter Ginn is hired as Executive Director.

2000

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.

2004

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

2006

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.

2011

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.

2014

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.

2014

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.

2016

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).

2016

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.