Echoes of the Government Shutdown

A deeper dive into what the Government Shutdown means for individuals living in poverty.

Our hearts go out to all of those affected by the Government Shutdown. To the government workers who aren’t getting paid, the folks not receiving government benefits, the landlord whose tenants can’t make rent, we see you.

Consider this example of what our neighbors are facing: A single mother, Amanda, has 3 kids, is working full time earning $24,000/year. She qualifies for food assistance and rental assistance which helps but she’s still responsible for a portion of her rent and by the end of the month typically runs out of food benefits as she’s feeding growing boys. Studies show that towards the end of the month, the calorie consumption per household lowers due to higher spending habits when benefits are first received. Moms like Amanda are already sacrificing to make ends meet.

Unfortunately, this is the reality for 1 in 3 of our neighbors right here in Cincinnati. Poverty is alive in our city, in our state and across our country. Due to the Government Shutdown, the state of Ohio allocated February’s food benefits earlier than normal just yesterday, Wednesday, January 16th in order to ensure everyone receives their February food allotment. This means that the amount received must last through February, or potentially longer should the Government Shutdown continue. And it’s unclear if families will receive March assistance. For individuals who are focusing on the short-term the ramifications over just a month’s time could be radical.

SmartMoney financial counselor, Michelle Abernathy says,  “If the government shutdown goes until April then people will need to start thinking about their food budget for the next 90 days and what that looks like. Additionally, if they are receiving section 8 housing vouchers, they have to be thinking about how are they going to pay the full rent and budget for the same amount of food.”

In this hypothetical situation, Amanda is responsible for paying $620/month for rent because her housing voucher covers $380/month.But without this voucher she’s required to pay the full $1000 rent for the month of February. This is 50% of what she makes monthly (before taxes) and on top of that she’s faced with also not receiving her food benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). According the US department of Agriculture,  Amanda receives $642/month in food assistance based on her family size. So, without Government benefits, Amanda is now responsible for an additional $1,022 in monthly expenses. And that’s just food and rent.

Many times, when individuals are focused on surviving day to day or pay check to paycheck, they can lose site of the bigger picture for future. Whether that’s saving to build assets, furthering their education, or simply doing homework with your kids, when stress from financial constraints enters a home, so much more than a bank account suffers.

If you or someone you know is being affected by the Government Shutdown, CityLink has resources to support them in learning how to stretch their finances, employment supports and even pathways to new careers to change their trajectory.

Amidst all the chaos happening in our government, we are hopeful. Please join us in praying for the leaders of our nation to reach an agreement, for individuals who are out of work, and for others affected in ways we can’t always see.

Tidying Up

“My mission is to spark joy in the world through tidying” – Marie Kondo

By now, you probably have heard of the new Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Her philosophy is simple, if something you own no longer sparks joy within you then it’s time to say thank you and goodbye. To get a better idea of what we’re talking about check out this trailer:

If you feel so inspired to “Marie Kondo” your closet (yeah, we made that term up)  we are happy to take those items that no longer spark joy off your hands. Because maybe, just maybe they will spark joy for someone else. It’s a win, win.

Donating to Clothing Connection is easy, simply drop off your items during CityLink Operating Hours. We’ll provide you a receipt of your donation. We can also organize a clothing drive for your business, church, or organization with you. If interested, click here. Please note, the clothes that work best for our clients are professional attire and winter coats.

Happy Decluttering!


Thankful for Abundance

We’ve got a ton to be grateful for here at CityLink Center, but most of all, we’re thankful for God’s abundance. CityLink is a place where hope overflows. Where hundreds of volunteers serve selflessly, and thousands of clients are chasing down their dreams. We’re a place where hundreds of people, churches, businesses and foundations give of their resources to make all of it possible without a penny of government support. Abundance at every turn, unearned, undeserved, and yet, always there. May you and your families be blessed this Holiday season as you ponder the sweet abundance in your midst.


Wired for the Future

We are relentlessly pursuing opportunities for clients to have a path to a better future.

Over the past 5 years we have seen how technical or industry training can open the doors to a truly different trajectory for a clients’ career options, so we are working to offer more of those options.

New career pathways come to fruition as a combination of providence, evaluation, partnership, and timing…as is the case with our latest pilot, Cable Technician Training….which we will launch with PerScholas November 26th. In just 4 weeks, students will learn the necessary skills to work in homes and businesses to install and repair telecommunications cables. This could include phone lines, internet cables, or cable television… and this is just the beginning!

A friend of the center (from one of our church partners), Jeff, first mentioned a cable tech career pathway about a year ago.  He explained about how individuals could learn how to wire buildings and offices, then enter a field with high demand and great wages.  A study conducted by a Fidelity team, managed by Common Impact, evaluated over 30 career pathways and Cable Technician Track made it through the rigorous vetting process.

Our existing IT Training provider, PerScholas, excitedly agreed to pilot the program as an expansion of their portfolio and already have employer partners seeking these skill sets.  With a template for industry training created, our partners (CPS, CincinnatiWorks, and SmartMoney) quickly rallied to support the month-long pilot.

Working together we can see meaningful opportunities come to fruition for our neighbors and our community.

We are currently recruiting students for this program starting November 26th. Call CityLink at 513-357-2000 or visit to apply!


Just Add Students

The curriculum is finalized, our partners are ready, our first class is enlisted, and the kitchen is set.

Today, the first class of Findlay Culinary Training will bring to life an idea and a vision that was born a decade ago in New Orleans.  The culinary training program will provide a combination of life skills and industry skills for one month at CityLink and then students will progress to a 3 month internship at Social OTR.

We have benefited from tremendous guidance by Cafe Reconcile in New Orleans and Edwin’s in Cleveland Ohio, who graciously shared about their programs and helped guide our formation of Findlay Culinary Training.

The industry training track is the next level of our collaboration’s work together.  Through the culinary training program Cincinnati Public School’s Aspire program will provide culinary math, CincinnatiWorks will provide job readiness, SmartMoney will provide financial education, RedBike & Changing Gears will assist with transportation, and Center for Employment Opportunities which will coach students on talking about their past.  PerScholas helped advise us on the interview process and Children Inc will provide childcare for parents entering the program.

Findlay Market’s talented Culinary Training Director will instruct students over the next 4 weeks through curriculum which has been informed by an amazing group of restaurants on our advisory council.

Thank you to the Emery Foundation and Crossroads church for funding our kitchen updates to begin this program.

Our goal is to equip students to realize their talents and potential, and we look forward to them shaping Cincinnati’s culinary future.   Working together we can see meaningful pathways open for our neighbors.

Pati Payne

It’s with a heavy heart that we share the news that our friend Pati passed away last week. Pati was one of our dedicated volunteers serving over 400 hours on our hospitality team. Her warm smile and calm demeanor touched the lives of so many.

We’ll especially miss her signature “how’s you” greeting on Thursday afternoons. Pati, you will be deeply missed. Thank you for leaving a mark on so many of us here at CityLink Center.

Condolences may be shared with the family through,

Let’s Get Cooking

To prepare for the new culinary training program, the CityLink kitchen has gotten some upgrades.

A new hood, new range, new stove are in the process of getting installed.  Other equipment is being ordered.  The space will provide industry skills training 20-hours a week for the month-long training, while in-house partners will provide an additional 20-hours of life skills to set up the graduates for lasting success.  Once at full capacity, cohorts of 10 students will start each month, then graduate into the 3-month apprenticeship at Social OTR.  Thanks to Crossroads Church and the Emery Foundation for investing in these upgrades.

Help When I was at my Worst

Being a single Dad of a 4 year old starting preschool isn’t easy. Without the support Dustin received he tells us that his daughter would have experienced more trauma. This wasn’t the life he imagined for his daughter so he decided to do something about it. 

With an army of support, Dustin has landed a job to help provide for his daughter, Vivienne. And we couldn’t be more excited for him. After he rang the bell declaring his new employment, Dustin shares with how his CityLink Family has helped him along the way…

“Brian with Catholic Charities has been a big help with working through being a positive structured father to Vivienne. Amanda, Tamiko, Derrell, Belinda, Christina, Nina, Carol, basically everyone in Cincinnati Works have been pro team Dustin from the beginning. Everyone at Children, Inc. are awesome kind-hearted people. The volunteers at the front desk are always smiling when I walk into the building. The whole atmosphere and interactions with everyone at CityLink is positive and up lifting. Monica is my service coordinator, Rachel has been my number two.”  

After a Clothing Connection appointment on Tuesday, Dustin will be off to work equipped what he feels is a foundation for his daughter’s life, the mentality of taking each day as it comes, and resting in knowing that his faith and his support system will be there for him as he keeps working on his goals. He leaves us with the sentiment “I am very thankful to have help when was at my worst”. We can’t wait to see how the choices that you’ve made over the past couple months shape your future and Vivienne’s too. Well done Dustin, we’re so proud of you. 

MashUp 2018

Your eyes, ears and taste buds will be taken on an epic adventure through four separate live performances featuring unexpected combinations of music, art and dance. Plus, a hero inspired art project our guests (thats you!) help create. All of this mashed up with amazing food and adult beverages from some of the city’s hottest venues! 

Early Bird Tickets: $40 extended through September 14th!


Pre-Sale Tickets: $45 through October 5th

Door Tickets: $50 (if not sold out… and this event sells out!)





Thank you to our generous sponsors!

Social OTR

CityLink continues expanding to support more of our neighbors on their journey to reaching their full potential.

Our latest partnership, a culinary training program partners life skills from CincinnatiWorks, SmartMoney, CPS, Catholic Charities with industry training from Findlay Market.  Student cooks will spend four weeks in our classroom kitchen at CityLink Center, followed by a 3 month apprenticeship in the kitchen of Social OTR.

“Social OTR is more than just the name of the restaurant, it’s tied to the philosophy of both the eatery and the program behind it, which will partner with CitLink to train up people who might otherwise experience high barriers to employment to work in Cincinnati’s kitchens.”

The goal is to have the restaurant up and running in a couple months at the 1819 Elm Street location. Read more about this exciting partnership in this article recently released by Cincinnati Business Courier.

You can get engaged in Social OTR through the kickstarter campaign which will provide meals for targeted community members and offer you some great perks too….then stay tuned for the program launch in October and restaurant launch in December.