September 12, 2019 – CLEVELAND – Towards Employment will celebrate 43 years of workforce development in Cleveland on Friday September 20 at its Annual Gala at the Westin Cleveland Downtown.  The theme this year is Get in the Game and two celebratory announcements will show CLE is in the game as it relates to workforce and reentry.

In July, 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 meaningful employment. Awards were made to organizations serving either young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 who have been involved in the juvenile or adult criminal justice system – including those who did not complete high school – or adults ages 25 and older who were previously involved in the adult criminal justice system. 

Towards Employment is the only organization nationally to receive both a young adult and an adult award. Each award is for $1.5M over 3 years. Jill Rizika, Towards Employment’s executive director, says: “Given that 1 in 6 Ohioans have a criminal record, this DOL funding will create opportunities for more people impacted by criminal justice involvement to gain skills and supports needed to become productive citizens and provide qualified talent to fill open jobs in our community.” See more about this award at the DOL website:

Towards Employment is also announcing the first TE Hometown Hero Award to honor an organization or person who is elevating our city with a dedication and respect for the individuals served by the TE mission. This year’s honoree will be the Cleveland Browns.  The efforts of the administration and the players to fight for social justice and criminal justice reform in Cleveland over the past two years has benefited our entire community and continues to make visible a difficult and meaningful topic. “Led by our players and through the support of Dee and Jimmy Haslam, the Browns are deeply committed to social justice initiatives alongside the experts in our community, including Towards Employment,” said Browns Vice President of Community Relations Jenner Tekancic. “We are honored to accept this award that recognizes Browns players’ dedication to social justice efforts, and most importantly, to continue our work in partnership with Towards Employment to help make a difference in Northeast Ohio.”

To support Towards Employment’s annual event, learn more about its programming or to get connected to workforce efforts in Cleveland visit

Cleveland organizations supporting the 2019 Event include the D’Amore Tatman Group, LLC, Cleveland Browns, and Swagelok. 18 other businesses are also represented. See total list at


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