August 10, 2020 – CLEVELAND – In July of 2019, the Department of Labor Reentry Project awarded $85.7 million in Reentry Project grants to 45 non-profit organizations across the United States (4 in Ohio). Labor Reentry Project grants ensure former justice-involved individuals returning to the labor force from the justice system have the opportunity to gain and keep meaningful employment. Towards Employment is the only organization nationally to receive both a young adult and an adult award – $3M over 3 years.

 “Promoting Access to Credentials and Employment” (or PACE) is for Clevelanders with criminal justice involvement. It prepares and connects people to in-demand jobs by providing opportunities for living wage employment, with credential training and robust wrap around support. PACE is focused specifically on local industries with growing demand for skilled workers, including manufacturing, construction and IT – all industries deemed “essential” and consistently hiring people even during COVID.

At the beginning of March, Towards Employment was able to move all career readiness training online and include digital equipment, training and internet connectivity for all classes.  In addition to those looking for initial connections to work, Clevelanders with backgrounds who are left displaced or unable to work due to COVID are also participating and receiving credential training – CNC machining, welding (ASW), construction, and even GEDs. For all Clevelanders with a criminal background struggling to find work, currently unemployed, or seeking a new career opportunity, PACE is a viable option for finding more stable employment with higher wages.

Richard, a returning citizen and graduate from a July manufacturing workshop said, “When I first got into workshop, I thought it wasn’t going to make a difference for me, but everything Towards Employment tells you is key to working in manufacturing – and being good at it too!” Coming home and returning to the workforce is no easy feat, especially during a pandemic, but Richard was hired at a local manufacturer immediately following the end of workshop. He is hoping to continue to hone his skills to advance further in manufacturing.

By the end of the 39-month grant period, it is expected that Towards Employment will have served 376 participants with this program. You or someone you know can be one of them. Anyone with involvement in the criminal justice system, looking to obtain credentials and employment in a good career, contact Towards Employment at 216.696.5750.

To learn more about PACE and who is eligible, visit There are also other opportunities for employment and advancement for Clevelanders without a criminal background as well. Visit to learn more about jobs and career opportunities in Cleveland, support Towards Employment, or to get connected to workforce efforts in Cleveland.


About Towards Employment: Our mission is to empower individuals to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through employment. Towards Employment is a proven leader in workforce development that connects people to careers, which changes people’s lives, advances businesses, and strengthens community in Northeast Ohio. Learn more about our work at