America’s Tech Jobs Are On The Rise

                                   Photos of a recent Per Scholas Graduation in early June

 

Since the late 1980’s, the use of technology has grown expeditiously here in the United States and all over the world. From the development of home desktop computers followed by the creation of the World Wide Web, to now in 2017 where the iPhone 8 is set to be released later this year. Technology is developing rapidly year after year, advancing the prospects of better ways to cure disease, solve crime, home appliances, and much more. One of the biggest impacts of technology is the number of jobs created within the tech industry. According to an article by USA Today titled “Tech Jobs are Thriving Nationwide – up to 7.3M”, across the US the tech market is booming with a growth rate of 2% of jobs bringing the total number of 7.3 million since last year. Earning potential for tech workers average $108,900, twice the average income for most U.S occupations.

A primary concern of many employers according to the article, is the gap between college graduates and the skill set needed to succeed. Per Scholas, whose mission is to provide a comprehensive approach to tech education by creating opportunities for more people to enter the tech industry, close the skills gap by provide a 8 week hands on IT training program, and foster a more diverse workforce in the tech industry by including more women and people of color. Our clients here at CityLink receive premium tech education by renowned experts and practitioners with years of experience in IT. They also receive the same holistic services that all CityLink clients enjoy, such as taking SmartMoney classes where they learn to budget and manage their finances and obtain interview appropriate attire through Clothing Connection. CityLink’s location in the West End is also an awesome advantage, conveniently located near the heart of Cincinnati’s hub of fortune 500 employers seeking tech talent.

Organizations such as Kroger, Thrive, TechSolve, and U.S Bank are merely minutes away and recruit regularly from Per Scholas. Over 80% of graduates land jobs in the local Cincinnati region. Taking on a full time IT training program can seem daunting. But our clients have the full support of their fellow classmates, instructors, and the intentional community we form here. With the mass majority of students leaving college thousands of dollars in debt, you can become trained, certified, and land a tech job with no student loan debt.  The work is hard but the benefits will last a lifetime.

Congrats to Per Scholas most recent graduating class!

A Wild Time at CityLink’s Zoo Day!

Building community both inside and outside the walls of our 800 Bank St location is part of our DNA here at CityLink.  Last Saturday, on a bright Saturday afternoon, volunteers, clients and staff took a field trip to for our first Zoo Day! CityLink is comprised of many moving parts. Different clients and volunteers don’t always have the opportunity to engage with one other because of the differences in classes or areas they serve in.  Fun and interactive social opportunities like this give our clients, volunteers, staff and their kids a chance to connect! Thanks to our valued church partner,  Landmark Church and nearly 100 community members rode down to the Cincinnati Zoo from CityLink in style for a fun day of animal sight-seeing and adventure.

The group was split into 10 smaller groups, where they participated in a friendly but competitive scavenger hunt.

Did you know the Komodo Dragon can consume 80% of its body weight in one sitting? Team Elephant did!

They were the scavenger hunt champions, and thanks to event supporters like Graeter’s and Jimmy John’s they took home gift cards for a cool summer treats and eats.  Jimmy John’s also made a generous donation of plenty of sandwiches and chips for the road. Check out a few pics from our day below…sort of makes you wanna be a part of our crew, huh?

Check out these other fun ways to get your family involved with CityLink this summer! 

 

Partner Spotlight: Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank

For young families juggling priorities with limited budgets, diapers, while necessary, can be a cumbersome expense. The average family in the U.S. spends upward of $700 per child annually on diapers. CityLink partners with various organizations to provide holistic care and access to services that will support clients reaching their goals and eliminate barriers blocking the path to  self-sufficiency. And yes… for CityLink families with small children, this includes DIAPERS!

 

Thanks to our partnership with Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank, the only diaper bank serving the Greater Cincinnati area, clients are provided with size appropriate diapers in bundles at no cost to them.

Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank partners with social service agencies across the Tri-state to support low-income individuals with diaper needs while raising awareness of the basic health need for diapers. By assisting families during what can be one of the most challenging times in a parent’s life, Sweet Cheeks is working to build a strong community for the future. Over 150,000 diapers were donated to Sweet Cheeks in the past year and these diaper donations are what keeps them going (learn more about donating new diapers to Sweet Cheeks here).

Our clients often express gratitude for Sweet Cheeks Diapers, commenting on the bills they have been able to pay, food and non-food items they have been able to purchase, and money they save because of the diaper resources. Allocating diapers via Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank fills a tremendous gap in means for our clients and their little ones.

In 2016, CityLink distributed 7,360 diapers serving over 80 individuals. Now that’s a “bottom line” to be proud of!

 

 

Meet Our AmeriCorps VISTAs!

Here at CityLink, AmeriCorps VISTAs help build into our mission and vision by bringing their diverse backgrounds, experiences, skills and personalities to strengthening our core foundation. Their support allows us to better serve our clients. As our current Class of VISTA’s year of service draws closer to it’s end and we’re in the midst of recruiting our 2017-2018 class, we asked them to share their journey to CityLink, what their experience has been like thus far, and what plans lay ahead for their bright futures:


Sarah Bublitz
Undergraduate: University of Cincinnati
Major: Fine Arts, B.A

 

What bought you to CityLink?
My mom was first a volunteer here before recommending I volunteer here as well. This place seemed really different from all the other places I’ve volunteered at before, I could actually see lives being changed. Coming out of college I didn’t really know what I wanted to do next, and serving as a VISTA I felt was the best way to help me figure that out.
How has serving at CityLink had an impact on you?
Serving here has really helped me define the true meaning of poverty. I now understand not only what poverty looks like, but feels like as well.
What’s next after VISTA life?
Sarah was accepted into Ohio State University’s Master of Social Working program and will be starting in the fall. Sarah hopes to focus her career on reentry service for citizens exiting prison.

 

MaryKate Wireman
Undergraduate: Morehead State University
Major: International Studies, B.A with minor in Sociology

 

What bought you to CityLink?
I wanted to explore a career in nonprofit. When I learned about CityLink, I was really drawn to their mission and work.
How has serving at CityLink had an impact on you?
CityLink has shown me how to put my passion to work, not only in caring about the issues in my community, but actually acting on them in an effective way.
What’s next after VISTA life?
MaryKate is currently enrolled in Morehead’s Master in Public Administration program. She will be teaching a undergraduate class as an Graduate Assistant at Morehead this coming Spring.

 

Allie Wallace
Undergarduate: University of Cincinnati
Major : Fine Arts, B.A with concentrations in drawing and Semiotics

 

What bought you to CityLink?
Coming out of school I wanted to go somewhere I could build into God’s kingdom while doing meaningful work.
How has serving at CityLink had an impact on you? 
Having not grown up in poverty myself, my year of service has opened my eyes to the difficulties of poverty and the power I have to address it in my community
What’s next after VISTA  life?
Allie will pursue barista training to work in a coffee shop. She also wants to volunteer for Crossroads.

 

Alex Contra
Undergraduate: University of Cincinnati
Major: Marketing and International Business

 

What bought you to CityLink?
I traveled with Back2Back Ministries on a mission trip to Mexico. While there I gained a deeper passion for fighting poverty. I had also started volunteering at CityLink two years prior to my service.
How has serving at CityLink had an impact on you?
I’ve become more aware of the different barriers contributing to poverty.
What’s next after VISTA life?
I plan to continue serving as a volunteer at CityLink after my years of service.

 

Alex Horan
Undergraduate: Xavier
Major: Liberal Arts, B.A with concentrations in Political Science, Business, and Peace Studies

 

What bought you to CityLink?
I was serving in AmeriCorps at another site doing similar work in GED tutoring and employment training when I found out about CityLink. I was impressed with the model of service in bring all supporting services under one roof.
How has serving at CityLink had an impact on you?
I’ve met some really awesome people here who love what they do here, and that’s what I love about this place.
What next after VISTA life?
Alex is currently enrolled at Northern Kentucky University’s Master in Public Administration program. He wants to pursue a job in local government.

 

Ashley Jacobs
Undergraduate: Miami (OH) University
Major: Early Childhood Education

 

What bought you to CityLink?
I wanted to gain experience working in a nonprofit, somewhere really making an impact on the City of Cincinnati.
How has serving at CityLink had an impact on you?
Serving here has solidified my belief in the vision that with community and relationships, we as individuals can be successful and collectively succeed when we all come together.
What next after VISTA life?
Ashley will be starting her career as a pre-school teacher in a Montessori classroom. She will also be starting in a teaching education program in June to obtain her Montessori certificate.

 

Latia Leonard
Undergraduate: Michigan State University
Major: Communication

 

What bought you to CityLink?
Before coming to CityLink, I had allot of experience volunteering, but I wanted to get a more hands on opportunity to make an impact in a way that being a volunteer on the frontline wouldn’t allow. CityLink allows me to have hands on experience working on organizational impacting projects.
How has serving at CityLink had an impact on you?
Since the start of my service, I’ve had an amazing opportunity to see how people who come here under all sorts of terrible circumstances, leave with hope that they can concur whatever’s next, support their family, and grow in faith.
What’s next after VISTA life?
Latia is currently pursuing employment and is planning to go to graduate school.

Join the AmeriCorps VISTA Team at CityLink!

Join CityLink AmeriCorps

Discover your passions and skills through a year of service as a CityLink Center AmeriCorps VISTA.

CityLink Center is a city-wide initiative bringing together various social services in Cincinnati all under one roof. Through integrated and holistic services, our team of expert staff, partners and volunteers are helping people break free from the cycle of poverty and reach of place of self-sustainability and hope. Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA) build CityLink Center’s capacity to better serve the community and create a platform for life change.

Through a year of service you will gain professional skills and experience, build a network of career professionals, and earn an education grant to kickstart your career in the field of your interest.

We are currently hiring for 7 positions starting in June 2017 in communications, development, hospitality and programming, partner development and volunteer systems. Applications are due by May 5, 2017.

For more information, please visit our VISTA engagement page for additional information on how to apply!

We believe in National Service

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Dating back to 1964, the concept and implementation of national service was mainstreamed when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act of 1965. The Act, which was intended to strength federal coordination of efforts to alleviate poverty, incorporated AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) as the domestic version of the Peace Corps. Since its implementation, AmeriCorps VISTA has led to service expansions to include programs such as the Summer Associates, Citizens Corps, and Senior Corps. Programming also expanded to include educational service to the disabled, job training, and addiction services in rural communities. Since 1964, more than 1 million Americans have served in AmeriCorps.

Here at CityLink, we trained and onboarded our first inaugural class of VISTAs in July 2012 and we’re currently recruiting our 5th VISTA class, learn more below.

VISTAs provide integral support to CityLink’s administrative operations in key function areas such as programming, communications, event management, client recruitment, volunteer training, and partner support. Recent VISTA projects have included the relaunch of CityLink’s event committee, implementing internal communication systems for volunteers, and developing new processes for our new client management system Sales Force.  CityLink over the years has been able to expand volunteer roles, optimize fundraising efforts, and provide transition support for new partners, thanks to dedicated and hardworking VISTAs that make those changes possible, keeping CityLink operating efficiently. Across America, thousands of people both young and old, are mobilizing within communities to build capacity within community organizations, filling resource gaps within schools, assisting teens with college prep, and much more.

The struggle against poverty is never over until every family, and every child, can live in a community where everyone can receive opportunities, something AmeriCorps and other national service programs alike work to establish. CityLink is thankful for the VISTAs who have served with us, furthering our mission in combating poverty. We are currently recruiting  our 5th VISTA class for the following positions:

Communication & Events VISTA

Workforce Development Partner VISTA

Volunteer Recruitment and Engagement VISTA

Hospitality/Service Coordinator Support VISTA

Development VISTA

Automotive Partner Support VISTA 

Resources

VISTA Campus: https://www.vistacampus.gov/vista-timeline-celebrating-50-years-vista-service

Finding Hope and Help After Incarceration

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Pictured from right to left: Johnmark Oudersluys, Executive Director of CityLink Center, Rev. Noel Julnes-Dehner, Filmaker of ‘The Right Track’, Matt Joyce, Director of Strategic Partnerships for CEO, Grant Doepel, 4/7 Ministries, Felicia Johnson, CityLink Client and Nehemiah Manufacturing Employee, Michael Taylor, Operations Director for Nehemiah Manufacturing

CityLink recently hosted its first CityLink Conversation around the topic of returning citizens and recidivism. A common theme of the discussion revolved around the significant challenges and barriers people face in finding employment. And a lack of employment is often one of the biggest drivers behind recidivism,  compromising the potential success for those reentering society.

The discussion was led by experts from local and national community organizations that tackle the issue of recidisvm, second chance employment and other resources geared at supporting one of our most vulnerable populations.   Panel members included Michael Taylor, Operations Manager from Nehemiah Manufacturing, Matt Joyce, Director of Strategic Partnerships from Center of Employment Opportunities (CEO), Grant Doepel Co-Founder of 4/7 Ministries, and CityLink and Nehemiah Manufacturing employee, client Felica Johnson.

The audience viewed “The Right Track” a documentary written and produced by Cincinnati native Reverend Noel Julnes – Dehner. Panelists and audience members shared about the effects of incarceration on families, mental health, the cycle of drugs and poverty, and second chance employment opportunities.

Emotions were raw as panel members spoke not only about barriers citizens face when leaving prison, but each recounted their own stories of triumph over early struggles and how they are extending their second chance to others.  Johnson spoke of her time in jail and how she felt labeled by society:

 “When you come out of those doors you have to start over and if your story is anything like mine where you have burned all your bridges with your family because of the choices you have made and the hurt you put on them and you have nowhere to go, you find yourself back in the same environment that you know because that’s the only way you know how to survive……Everybody who surrounds me now are God fearing people and that’s what got me here today, I know without God I wouldn’t be sitting here today.”  – Felicia Johnson

Being judged by his past, Michael Taylor found himself being rejected at every turn. With no one willing to give him a chance, Michael’s perseverance and his desire to flourish beyond his mistakes grew with each obstacle:

“There was so many times I was really close to going back to the drugs and the lifestyle because that’s the only place I felt like I belonged because of my past indiscretions, and that’s when I found Nehemiah. I came to Nehemiah, I walked in the door and the owner was standing there and he shook my hand and said welcome. That gave my hope and it changed my life right then and there. I remember telling him that I was going to work hard and not lose my job, I’ll come in and work my butt off and do whatever they ask me too. I would have done anything because I didn’t have to lie, I was comfortable there. Working at Nehemiah I gained 7 promotions and became Operations Manager.”            – Michael Taylor

Prisoners often attend church to renew faith, cope with the struggles of prison life, and begin on a positive life altering journey of redemption and forgiveness. When speaking about prison ministries and the need to invent something new to help combat recidivism, Grant Dopel talks of his involvement with other ministries and how he and his wife founded 4/7 Ministries.

“4/7 came to be because we saw a different need, there are many wonderful prison ministries that we have been a part of, and when you see the recidivism rate in this country of 49% half of the people who come out of prison go right back. We got to thinking, there are wonderful organization like ours that do good work on the inside, and other wonderful organization that help on the outside…..how do we bridge that gap? That’s what 4/7 became, let’s bring in people from our communities to meet those folks behind bars. That’s bringing in business owners, pastors, people of faith, people not of faith.”        – Grant Doepel

Employment opportunities for citizens exiting prison has long been a both a necessity and struggle within local communities. Both Nehemiah Manufacturing and CEO have invested many resources into not only providing employment for those leaving prison, but also forming communities among their employees, creating the positive structured social relationships lacking behind bars. Matt Joyce speaks about CEO’s program structure and how it’s intended to help people gain long term employment through partnership.

“Our work is centered on transitional employment, we work with cities, states, apartments, Habitat for Humanity, a whole lot of people committed to going to the private sector and saying ‘would you be willing to give us work?’ Anything from doing roadside maintenance, construction, and basic labor. We work with people as they are coming out of prison, ideally within the first couple of weeks of them coming out. Its this idea that when you’re coming out of prison and you have an employer there saying I’ve got a job for you. People are getting paid everyday and it’s something they can take home to their family and know they are contributing. This makes a huge difference.”  – Matt Joyce

CityLink is committed to partnerships that allow us to team with these awesome local organizations, with their expertise and our resources can effectively address this critical issue within our community and provide equal opportunity for all. The Center for Employment Opportunities will launch here in Cincinnati on April 14th.

Saturday Services Return in April

Saturday Hours

Spring is upon us and CityLink’s seasonal Saturday Services are returning in just a few weeks. Bi-weekly Saturday Programming will start April 8th and run through September 22nd. We identified Saturday Programming as a need based on client feedback. CityLink and our partners are fully committed to preserving a solution that will resolve the challenges our clients face, including the challenges of our employed clients. Many work long hours to support their families and face time constraints, transportation barriers and other obstacles that interfere with meeting their day to day needs.

 

Operating Hours Beginning April 8th are as follows:

Monday: 8:00-5:00 p.m.
Tuesday 8:00-5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 8:00-8:30 p.m.
Thursday 8:00-5:00 p.m.
Friday 8:00-5:00 p.m.
*Saturday 9:00-2:00 p.m.
*Offered the 2nd/4th Saturdays of the month April-September

Join Us for CityLink Conversations Inside Out: Life After Prison

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Every year thousands of our fellow citizens are released from prison, and left with little to no family support, no money, few resources to gain self-sufficiency. Gaining employment in an already competitive workforce labeled as “offender” has made getting a job an incredible challenge and statistics show that a lack of employment is one of the driving forces behind recidivism. As a society it is important that we change this narrative.

On March 2nd CityLink will be hosting an open dialogue event, intended to educate members of our community on the pressing issues facing citizens returning home incarceration.  Join us for a panel discussion and viewing of ‘The Right Track’ a 25 minute documentary about the struggle between justice and redemption as experienced by people who’ve spent time in prison and re-entered society.We will be joined by CityLink Clients and the following panelists:

  • “The Right Track” film producer Rev. Noel Julnes-Dehner
  • Michael Taylor of Nehemiah Manufacturing
  • Grant Doepel of 4/7 Ministries
  • A representative from The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a future collaborative partner of CityLink

Light refreshments will be provided. Limited free tickets are available for the event, click here to get your ticket now!

Meet Our Service Coordinator Team!

 

 

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Meet our Service Coordination Team (from left to right): Cassie Kolkebeck, Leah Steverson, Monica Benton, Meggie Kingsley and Brittany Sisson

At CityLink, our Service Coordination Team plays an integral role in preparing our clients for success. When new clients enter our doors, the SC Team is responsible for supporting them in identifying their needs and desired outcomes. As the front line of CityLink’s unique service integration model, our Service Coordinators serve as a single and familiar point of contact for all CityLink services and partner organizations. Under one roof, our clients are able to access various resources while having the individualized care and attention of a highly compassionate and skilled social worker who knows their story and supports them throughout their journey.

Our SC Team took some time to share some highlights of their work here at the Center, the benefits of the model and the most rewarding part of their jobs:

How does the holistic approach work in favor of our clients?

“I think that clients benefit greatly from service integration because most of our clients don’t have a singular issue-like most people in the world. We have to look at a person more holistically because getting a job isn’t going to fix your life if you have mental health issues, or if you don’t have a car to get to that job, or don’t have childcare etc. The integrated approach is very important and I value the spiritual component of our services here because sometimes people need help tapping into their spiritual selves which is where they can find their success.”  
Leah Stevenson, MSW

How are you able to better provide services for clients in the integrated service model at CityLink?

“One of the advantages of working at CityLink and providing services under one roof is that we have access to partners who are providing services to our clients, which allows for easier and more consistent communication. This is particularly helpful when trying to address or problem-solve an issue a client may be having.  We also have been able to establish relationships with external or visiting partners. For instance, we just had a meeting with Regina Campbell from Legal Aid to educate Service Coordinators on additional services Legal Aid can provide to our clients, which helps us to serve our clients better when we are working collaboratively.”
Cassie Kolkelbeck, MSW

What do you consider to be the most important part of your job and what would you consider the most rewarding part of your job? 

“Relationship building is the most important thing that we do. If we don’t have a relationship with our clients then that means they can’t trust us, and if they don’t trust us then as individuals they can’t progress in trying to meet their goals. I feel like the most rewarding part about my job is when people actually make it here and see what this place is about, so that they can sit down and have a goal session and map out where to go from there.”
Monica Benton, MSW