If not us, Who? If not now, When?

As we remember Martin Luther King, we need to rekindle the urgency to see his dream of people being judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

At CityLink, we get to see our neighbors take the brave steps towards reaching their full potential through the incredible partners we have in one location.  We get to see relationships form across racial and socio-economic lines, where those lines blur and people see one another as the beautifully inspired creation of God.

We have seen over 1,000 people in the last year engage towards a better life….and we need YOUR help.  You can become a part of the movement by taking the brave step to improve your own life or support a neighbor on their journey.  Join us now.


New Year, New Job?

Happy 2018!

We are excited to ring in the new year and also find that special someone to join our team in a client service role.

If you are interested (or know someone who is) in working full-time to support our mission, check out the job descriptions at: https://citylinkcenter.org/about-us/careers

Our team runs hard after God’s call and our opportunity to see our neighbors reach their full potential through providing holistic and client centered services.

All applicants should send a resume and cover letter to HR@citylinkcenter.org


Prevailing Heroism

Tonight our partner, the Tristate Veteran Community Alliance (TVCA) hosted Veteran Reflections: a night of story telling and honoring veterans.  We had the extreme honor of hearing living history from 9 brave men and women who served our armed forces from the landing at Normandy thru current engagements in Afghanistan.

The night focused on helping to close the widening gap between our military veterans and our civilian population.  In World War II about 11% of Americans served in the military and the collective consciousness of the war was at the forefront of daily life back home and abroad.  In contrast our modern day conflicts are comprised of 0.5% of our population and our national attention and news media cycles devote more coverage (literally) to celebrity break-ups than our longest lasting military engagement.

Each of the veterans (who service spanned every major conflict since WWII) shared their story, what service meant to them, what they took away from their time, and how their service has shaped their lives.  A common thread ran through the stories: a sense of purpose, a recognition of being a part of a greater cause, an immense gratitude for returning home to our nation, and a deep humility that pointed to other comrades who made immense sacrifices in their midst.

One serviceman read a blog from a friend, written days before a scheduled return home from Afghanistan, which was tragically never realized.  I encourage you to read this blog to gain insights to the lives of those who honorably serve.

We can thank our heroes by welcoming them home, asking to hear their experience (if they are ready to share), support their transitions home, volunteering with veteran focused groups, and urging our politicians to ensure the men and women in uniform are supported abroad and at home.  Learn more at www.tristatevca.org

Thanks to my father and all others who have served our nation.

Freedom on the Inside

Monday night a community of hundreds of volunteers, public officials, our new partners from Center for Employment Opportunities, GreenLight Fund Executive Director, and friends came together at one of our church partners, Crossroads Uptown, for an event “Freedom on the Inside”.

The event was to mark a milestone of 1-year of engagement of Four-Seven Ministries which engages volunteers within the prison system to bring hope, community and the gospel to incarcerated individuals.


Director Mohr who heads the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections shared the challenges facing our state, we have been expanding prisons and prison populations while other states have been downsizing, the war on drugs continues to incarcerate minorities at disproportionate rates in our state, lack of adequate mental health and addiction recovery services leads to incarceration of individuals who need treatment and support.


As big as these challenges are for us as a community, the challenges facing individuals returning from prison is even greater.  With felony records individuals have massive obstacles to obtain the basics like housing and employment.

I was deeply encouraged by Director Mohr’s vision for true reform of our judicial and prison system, and as he said we can not rely on Government alone to solve this issue.  We have a unique moment in time where the four-seven prison ministry is flourshing, preparing men and women on the inside for their next steps.  CEO will join CityLink Center in the spring of 2017, providing a real and tangible next step for men and women who desire a new path.

To gain understanding of this systemic challenge, our CityLink team visited Lebanon Correctional Institute on November 5th.  During our visit we had the opportunity to see life in a cell block, speak with individuals who were nearing their release, and speak to the men and women who work within the prison day in and day out.  The experience was profound.  Physically entering a space where 220 men are confined for years or decades of their life brought a deep appreciation for my personal freedoms and an empathy for how serving time affects those in the justice system.  Our society needs justice.  We all are responsible for our decisions and there are consequences when we act outside the law.  We need law to preserve peace within our community.  We also need to reflect on whether we are a just society where 1 in 3 African American men between the ages of 18-30 will be incarcerated or probation or parole.

There are no simple answers or quick fixes but through relationships being formed through four-seven ministries and in the Spring through CEO, we ask that you join us in prayer and time and service to help address this pressing issue in our community.

CEO Coming to Cincinnati & CityLink Center

A year ago, GreenLight fund an innovative venture philanthropy organization decided to come to Cincinnati.  With strong support from the local start-up community and funders, they began their process of assessing the Cincinnati landscape to understand our strengths and opportunities.  After understanding the landscape, GreenLight researched best practices around the country and identified promising organizations that can fill opportunity areas in our community.


Simultaneously, CityLink staff, volunteers, partner agencies, and church partners had been struggling with our inability to immediately engage individuals returning from prison on a path to employment and prosperity.

Local efforts have been growing through the Beacon of Hope Business Alliance, led by Nehemiah Manufacturing, to build awareness and the business case for local employers to hire second chance employees.

All of this has culminated with an incredible new partnership and opportunity in Cincinnati.

GreenLight identified Center for Employment Opportunities, a national program founded in NewYork and now in 4 states across the country, as a leader in recidivism prevention.  Their innovative and proven program engages individuals returning from prison in a 4 day Life Skills workshop and then immediately engages the clients in a transitional job crew, where each individual receives a paycheck at the end of a days work.  Individuals can work up to 75 days on the CEO transitional job crew during which time they are shoring up other aspects of their life and preparing for permanent employment.  Each day on the work crew, participants are receiving feedback that they can bring to a future employer to show their track record on the job.  This model provides key missing pieces of immediate earning for individuals released from prison, time to stabilize aspects of their life while in transition, and an employment record to obtain their permanent placement.


“What makes this model unique is that it provides individuals with immediate access to transitional employment,” explains Tara Noland, Executive Director of GreenLight Cincinnati. “Their track record for success in reducing recidivism is unparalleled, and when that cycle can be broken for good, the community saves tremendous resources and struggling families can rebuild.” A 2012 cost-benefit analysis demonstrated up to $3.30 in benefits (cost savings from criminal justice expenditures and value of transitional work crews to government agencies) for every $1 spent on the program.

We believe that the power of the CEO model will be amplified within the context of the CityLink collaboration.  CincinnatiWorks will leverage their local expertise in job coaching, employer relations, advancement, and retention supports to amplify the success of CEO participants.  Participants will benefit from support from Catholic Charities and SmartMoney workshops and counseling, access barrier removal services through Health Department, Changing Gears, and other partners.  Some will engage to complete their GED with Cincinnati Public Schools….the possibilities are incredible.

As our team of local pastors who provide guidance to our mission highlighted in this spiritual-advisory-council-letter-of-support-ceo, why it is so important for us to have this opportunity to engage those who need a second chance.

A team from CincinnatiWorks and CityLink had a chance to see the program in action at their Philadelphia office, I was inspired by this client’s exploration of how they are seen, how they see themselves, and how they see their future.  Together with CEO joining the collaboration at CityLink, we can support individuals journey from their past to their future.


Target launch for CEO in Cincinnati is March of 2017, join us in celebrating this good news!

Our Country & Our Choices

This past week has been heartbreaking as we have seen the continued senseless loss of life play-out across national airwaves.

In times of tragedy we can respond with anger or apathy, we can feel overwhelmed or emboldened, we can move towards a common understanding or retrench towards ideological positions.

On Friday morning, a meeting with leaders of two neighborhood social service agencies turned to the topic of the shootings which had touched each of our hearts.

As a father of two sons, I was utterly saddened to hear from my respected peer how she has had to address each of her sons and identify the ways that they may be misinterpreted in an encounter with law enforcement.  Her concerns of them not coming home at night aren’t from a traffic accident but from a traffic stop, simply because her sons are a different color than mine.   It is a reality in her and other families’ lives across our country, it is a reality that I can never fully appreciate as a white man, but it is an opportunity.

As people of faith, we can all recognize the inherent worth of every life created by God.  As people of faith, we can all recognize that there are incredible men and women who enlist to serve and protect us as public officers.   As people of faith, we can all recognize that a continued pattern of lost black men’s lives in encounters with law enforcement does not reflect the standard of justice and equality we aspire to.  As people of faith, we can all recognize that responding to injustice with violence will only further division and lead to more senseless waste of life.

So what can we do?

I was once told that we can dig a well while we pray for rain.  We can take on personal accountability, while advocating for larger change and importantly asking God to intercede on behalf of our nation.

At CityLink, we have a beautiful cross-section of our community coming together across socio-economic and racial divides.  These relationships can start to bridge chasms of misunderstanding and lack of awareness about the situations of neighbors who live only minutes from us but whose life experiences are miles apart.  Through relationship we can learn how to act as a community, love our neighbors, and act from love.

The first commandment is to love God. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself.

Join us in praying for our nation, our city, and our neighbors.


Eat Well – Do Good

July 1-31 (1)


CityLink & Partners are offering another way to do good and feel great in the process…..all throughout the month of July, you can help our city Take A Bite Out of Poverty.  Dive into some of the city’s best eats and a portion of the proceeds will support the collaboration at CityLink Center.  Learn about where and when to dive in by clicking here.

Job Training Works. So Why Not Do More?

A lot of really good people trying to figure out how to solve some really challenging problems in our community, like that of economic mobility.  How do we provide the tools and approaches for individuals to obtain living wage jobs and have a trajectory of hope for their families?

At CityLink, we are proud to have a national training program, PerScholas, providing IT Training to clients who emerge with a valuable certificate that can begin a meaningful career in technology.  PerScholas was featured in this article by the NewYork Times.  Read more. Be Encouraged. Join the Movement.

Lisa Edwards commutes from Barclays Bank to Per Scholas, a nonprofit offering low-income workers training in I.T. CreditAlex Wroblewski/The New York Times

Collaboration in action 6 days a week!

Saturday Doors Open

Today marks the first day that CityLink and partners are offering services on a Saturday.  We have over 40 clients enlisted to start or continue their journey with exciting partner programming:

  • CincinnatiWorks launches AdvanceYou on Saturdays to help members with jobs understand and develop to take that next career step
  • SmartMoney offers workshops and counseling for individuals to take control of their finances
  • ChangingGears classes prepare clients for vehicle ownership while the garage is hard at work repairing and preparing vehicles

In July, PerScholas will launch Network+ for those graduates or individuals who already have their A+ Certification.

If you are interested in starting your journey, give us a call at 513-357-2000 and get enlisted into an info session which takes place at 10am.

And all this progress is supported by volunteers, so if you are interested in engaging to volunteer, sign-up for a training here.

Are you a part of the 46%

46% of Americans

Wages are finally rising. Unemployment is the lowest it’s been since 2007.

But 31% of American adults, or 76 million people, say they are struggling to get by or just barely making it, according to the Federal Reserve Bank’s latest survey on Americans’ economic well-being, which looked at 2015.

46% of Americans would have to borrow or sell something to afford a $400 emergency expense, which can subject people to expensive loans, risk of defaulting on payments, damaging credit, and a whole host of potential negative ramifications.

At CityLink, SmartMoney Community Services provides financial education to help individuals build a budget, balance a budget, establish savings, and build assets…..if you want to learn more, call us at 513-357-2000 or learn more here.

Read more from this CNN Article.