GreenLight Fund & CEO


Earlier this month, the GreenLight Fund hosted Cinnovation, an event to officially welcome the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) to Cincinnati.


CEO was brought to Cincinnati by the GreenLight Fund, a non-profit which aims to give communities the tools to identify and solve their critical, local needs, even if those tools are not found close to home. This organization searches the country to find what’s cutting edge, what’s working, and what fits the particular needs of different communities.

GreenLight Cincinnati knows that, in this year alone, over 2,000 people in our city will return home from prison, with at least 1,000 returning to prison within three years. In a recent video, Tara Noland, Executive Director of GreenLight Fund – Cincinnati, says, “It was important for us to bring CEO to Cincinnati because they fill an important niche. They help people who have been convicted of felonies learn to work, find jobs, and keep jobs.”

In Hamilton County, half of the people who come home after being incarcerated will return to prison within three years unless they have some sort of intervention or support. At CityLink Center, through our partners at the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), we are providing just that: a supporting, job-readiness program for individuals who are at the highest risk of returning to prison.

We have already seen true life change happen from this program. Charles’ story is just one of the many that have yet to be written. We could not be more excited to watch the lives of our neighbors be changed through collaboration in our community. Learn more about this incredible partnership in the video below.

VISIONS Receives 5-Star Rating


CityLink’s onsite childcare partner, VISIONS (a subsidiary of Children, Inc.), has been awarded a 5-Star Rating by Step Up to Quality – Ohio’s main rating system created to recognize educational excellence in pre-school and early childhood programs. This is the highest award an early childhood education program can receive in the state of Ohio!

The scoring structure of Step Up to Quality, which ranges from one to five stars, is based on how effectively a center teaches age-appropriate skills, such as learning numbers and the alphabet. A program is considered “quality” if it has a rating of three or more stars. After meeting the requirements for four stars, an organization must meet specific standards to advance to five stars, including lower staff to child ratios, appropriate organizational accreditation, and involvement from parents and local community partners.

VISIONS earned this five-star rating with its personalized curriculum, small class sizes, literacy-rich environments, and teachers’ focus on children’s social and emotional development. As the newest resident partner, they have definitely been a blessing to our clients.

Congratulations to VISIONS for this awesome accomplishment! We salute you for your incredible commitment to quality, affordable childcare.

CityLink Welcomes New Partners CEO and Visions

Today we gave a great big welcome to our newest partners Center For Employment Opportunities (CEO) and Children’s, Inc (Visions). Today’s we celebrated with breakfast cooked and served by CityLink staff. Visions also brought baked cookies for CityLink and fellow resident partner as welcoming gifts.

Both CEO and Visions will be providing crucial services and their respective expertise to help clients combat two sufficient barriers to self-sufficiency. Employment for citizens returning home prison (CEO) and early head-start childcare (Visions), building into our model of holistic services to better address the needs of our community.These services CityLink is excited about our these new partnerships and look forward to leveraging the resources of our team to combat poverty in Cincinnati. Read more about Children, Inc services at CityLink, and check out an earlier blog about CEO to learn more about both these unique partners, their mission, and how our clients will benefit from thees valuable services!

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!



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!