Youth-Serving Organizations Commit to a New Focus on Racial Equity


Funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to support trainings for nonprofits throughout Cleveland

CLEVELAND – July 28 – The Annie E. Casey Foundation brought several local and national partners to Cleveland this week to reflect on early lessons and results from its Generation Work initiative, an effort  launched in 2015 to increase job opportunities for young adults here and in four other cities —  Hartford, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Seattle — enabling them to begin building careers and develop the skills employers need.

In recognition of this convening, Cleveland’s Generation Work partnership has announced it is supporting the Cleveland Neighborhood Progress Year of Awareness Building —  a series of trainings led by the Racial Equity Institute to increase awareness and understanding of racial inequality, foster productive dialogue among community stakeholders and civic leaders, and determine strategies to address persistent disparities. This support will cover the costs for 65 individuals from youth-serving organizations across the city, particularly employment programs, to take the training. These participants also will have the opportunity to network and discuss their racial equity and inclusion work with other national experts. The Cleveland partnership was launched by Towards Employment in collaboration with Cuyahoga County, New Growth Group, Ohio Means Jobs|Cuyahoga County, and Youth Opportunities Unlimited.

“We are proud to have the Annie E. Casey Foundation investing in our community. Access to national experts and peers across the country has helped us to think through how we can best improve outcomes for young adults—especially young adults of color,” says Jill Rizika, Towards Employment’s executive director.

Generation Work is helping to address an immense need in Cleveland/Cuyahoga County. When it launched, young workers between the ages of 18 and 29 in the metro area earned just 59 percent of the wages of the typical American worker: $11.13 at the median, compared with $18.78 for all workers aged 15-64.[1] During the economic recovery, wages for non-white youth in the Cleveland region fell relative to wages of their white counterparts and have continued to fall. Compared to young white workers, young non-white workers earned about 81 percent as much in 2013-2015.[2] Opportunities and compensation still differ dramatically by race in Greater Cleveland.

Our hope is that our participation with the Cleveland Neighborhood Progress Year of Awareness activities will equip partners throughout the city with the tools and resources necessary to ensure all youth — particularly Cleveland’s youth of color — can get on a path to educational and employment success.

[1] Policy Matters Ohio assessment of CPS microdata 2015. Working age population is persons aged 15-64.

[2] Policy Matters Ohio analysis of CPS microdata, Cleveland MSA, pooled 2005-2007, 2010-2012, and 2013-201

To learn more about Generation Work, please contact Rebecca Kusner at  To learn more about the Year of Awareness visit

About Towards Employment

Towards Employment empowers individuals to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through employment. A community-based workforce organization formed in 1976, we have over 40 years of experience successfully helping people gain the tools they need to find a job, navigate life’s obstacles, and secure a path toward a long-term career.  Last year, 560 Greater Cleveland residents got a job and took a step along their career pathway. We partner with businesses who have confidence in our proven training programs and personal coaching to prepare new and current employees for career success.  We are a leading community-based workforce organization in Northeast Ohio, working to influence the wider system, regional economy, and local community through extensive expertise and reliable partnerships.

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