Be the Change – Job Openings

Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and get into the critical work of serving our neighbors at CityLink Center?

Two of our partners have openings which could allow you to jump full force into our collective mission to transform lives and our community.  Check out the openings at Changing Gears and CEO, click here to learn more and potentially start a brand new career.

Good Luck, Doug!

Last Thursday, June 21st we celebrated Doug Green’s last day as Program Director of Center for Employment Opportunities’ (CEO) Cincinnati chapter. While Doug helped launch CEO, Cincinnati in March 2017, he’s been a part of the CityLink family since the doors opened in 2013, working previously at Cincinnati Works.

CEO is a national organization that offers comprehensive employment services exclusively for people with criminal records. CEO’s model is based on a highly structured program of life skill education, short-term paid transitional employment, full-time job placement and post-placement services.

 Doug joined CEO’s mission with a heart for serving returning citizens; a space he’s been passionate about for some time.  Thursday he shared that he began this work with the hope of starting something he could leave behind for his children and the next generation to continue. “I knew there were things that I could accomplish and things that I couldn’t,” Doug said, “Those things unaccomplished go on to my children to accomplish and create a legacy for themselves to pass on to their children.”

Doug leaves CEO to continue pursuing this passion by starting a construction company that will serve as a second-chance employer to those with a criminal background. 

We are beyond grateful for the time, energy, patience, and persistence Doug has poured into hundreds of clients lives. He has helped plant a seed of hope and grace in this city and we pray God will continue to bless his path.

Let your voice be heard

Peeling back the onion on all of the challenges that our neighbors face is complex.  On top of the immediate barriers of transportation, education, access to employment; there are institutional barriers that can literally prevent our clients from getting ‘unstuck’.  One of those barriers is access to banking and affordable lending but fortunately there is a chance that meaningful reform may happen in Ohio.

The AP reported that “On average, a payday loan takes 36% of a person’s pre-tax paycheck, Bourke said. ‘Customers simply cannot afford to pay that back and still afford their other financial obligations,’ he said. ‘This is why you see people ending up borrowing the loans over and over again.”

Furthermore, “Fifteen states either ban payday loans or cap interest rates at 36%. Without a limit on interest rates, competition among lenders does not tend to lower rates much, according to the research.”

“Currently Payday loans in Ohio are the most expensive in the nation, with an astounding typical annual percentage rate (APR) of 591%.   Ohio’s House of Representatives has passed House Bill 123 (HB 123) passed by a vote of 71-16 with bipartisan support for meaningful reform of payday lending.”  The bill has wide support and “builds on reforms that were approved in 2008 by approximately two-thirds of Ohioans who cast ballots. It would cap interest rates on payday loans at 28% and allow a maximum monthly fee of $20, providing affordable payments for borrowers and reasonable profits for lenders. The balanced legislation that passed the House would save Ohioans more than $75 million annually while preserving access to credit for borrowers.” according to the Ohio Community Development Corporation Association.

It is now up to the Ohio Senate, legislators who are in office to serve us, so let your voice be heard.  If you believe we should have sensible payday lending reform, let them know the simple message of support HB123:

Sen. Lou Terhar  – terhar@ohiosenate.gov           614-466-8068

Sen. Steve Wilson –  wilson@ohiosenate.gov       614-466-9737

Sen. Cecil Thomas – Thomas@ohiosenate.gov     614-466-5980

 

 

 

Zoo Day 2018

 

On Saturday, Clients, Volunteers, and Staff headed to the Cincinnati Zoo for Zoo Day 2018. Why do we do this? Well, we weren’t created to do life alone. Zoo Day provides not only an opportunity for authentic fellowship but also an opportunity to engage families.

It was so refreshing to extend our community outside the CityLink walls. Folks met before hand at CityLink Center to eat some pizza generously donated by Dewey’s Pizza.  And thanks to our valued church partner,  Landmark Church, transportation was provided and we all got to and fro without a hitch!

We saw polar bears feeling a bit lethargic under the hot summer sun. But hey can you blame them?!(photo credit: google) Even the humans were feeling  sluggish in the 90 degree heat!

But it was well worth the adventure! And hey, we even got some rad stickers for completing the scavenger hunt.

Did you know frogs can’t swallow with their eyes open? Now you do. You’re welcome.

 

Finding New Success

Doris had moved from Cincinnati to Atlanta and was in search of a stable career when a friend told her about Per Scholas. After doing a bit of research, Doris decided it was exactly what she was looking for, and that it would be a great fit. She applied and was accepted into the Atlanta class. She focused on her goal of employment and persisted through many challenges. Unfortunately, despite her hard work, life happened, and Doris was unable to finish the program.

When a family emergency brought her back to Cincinnati, Doris discovered that Per Scholas had another branch at the CityLink Center. After some consideration, she decided to apply again. When she was accepted into the Cincinnati class, Doris made a vow to finish.

While the two programs are pretty similar, Doris says that she feels like the Cincinnati branch of Per Scholas has more of an advantage. She says that she has received a lot more materials like tool kits, flashcards, books, notes, etc. in Cincinnati than she did in Atlanta.

At CityLink, Doris also has access to services that she didn’t have in Atlanta, which she said has made all the difference. One of her biggest supports is the onsite VISIONS Early Learning Center, where she is able to drop off her children in the morning and pick them up after class. Having the daycare onsite also allows her to check in on her children throughout the day. Without this service, Doris says that she may have ended up missing class and being removed from the program.

“VISIONS has really taken a weight off my shoulders,” she says. “It’s so convenient, and I don’t have to worry about making extra trips.”

Aside from the daycare, Doris has taken advantage of optical appointments through the Health and Wellness Center, where she received new glasses. She has also received professional clothing for class and her future career through Clothing Connection.

Doris is on track to graduate from Per Scholas next week! While she was upset at first that Atlanta did not work

out, she says that she is so happy to now be part of Cincinnati’s program. After graduation, Doris plans to find an IT career

with opportunity for growth and perhaps head back to school to earn a degree in Computer Science. She also adds,  “Mr. Delrae said we’d all become a family, and we actually have. Everyone is supportive… They’ve been great! They told me, ‘You’re

going to finish this time.’ All the study groups are happy to help each other. They’ve become my family, and I’m going to miss it.”

We are sad to see them go but are so excited to see what is next! Best of luck Per Scholas grads- we’re rooti

ng for you!

A Perfect Fit

Alexandria first walked through our doors with dreams of pursuing a career in IT. When she walked into her first day of class, and realized that she was not meeting the dress code, Alexandria thought that that dream was shattered. She did not have any professional clothes, and was unable to afford new outfits on such short notice. Her Service Coordinator signed her up for a Clothing Connection appointment. Clothing Connection is a service through St. Vincent de Paul that provides professional clothing to CityLink clients.

During her appointment, Alexandria had help from volunteers who acted as personal shoppers and chose different outfits for her. She says that having this help made it much less tedious to find things, especially since she doesn’t particularly enjoy clothes shopping.

“Going through clothing racks is tough,” she says. “The volunteers actually listened and took my style into consideration. It really relieved my stress.”

Not only have Alexandria’s new professional clothes helped her with mock interviews at CityLink, but they have also helped her meet the dress code and stay in Per Scholas. Now that she has graduated, her new clothes will also help with job interviews.

“I feel brand new in my clothes!” she says. “I’m not usually a big skirt person, but when I dress up, I feel accomplished.”

Alexandria adds that she would recommend “the whole CityLink ordeal” to everyone. She says that CityLink has truly helped her reach her goals, and that Clothing Connection was a huge part of it. She is now able to present herself professionally for future career prospects.

“Clothing Connection has everything!” she says. “I believe everyone should take advantage of it.”

Reaching New Heights

Traveling to a new country was something Ryanna had never imagined. She had spent a long time overwhelmed with loans, life expenses, and unemployment. When she first heard about CityLink, she came by to check out Cincinnati Works in hopes of finding full-time employment. After finding a secure job, Ryanna realized that she needed help managing her finances. She didn’t have a savings account, had never built a budget, and didn’t know anything about credit. She got engaged with SmartMoney, where she was able to take classes like basic budgeting, understanding credit, understanding loans, and prioritizing debt while meeting one-on-one with an on-site financial counselor. Through this process, Ryanna was able to build a budget, begin building her credit, start her first savings account, and pay off all her debts. She says that SmartMoney has made her finally feel, “financially comfortable.”

In fact, Ryanna is taking a vacation to Cancun, Mexico with her saved money! This trip will not only be her first time out of the country, it will also be her first time on an airplane.

“I get to experience something I’ve never experienced in my life,” she says. “If I hadn’t gone through SmartMoney, I’d never be able to go.”

She adds that it is a relief, and is very exciting, to be able to take a luxurious vacation, not worry about her finances, and even have extra money set aside in case of an emergency. Instead of stressing about finances, she will be able to spend her vacation relaxing by the pool and enjoying Mexico’s beautiful sunshine. Ryanna plans to stay engaged with CityLink and continue meeting with her financial counselor to keep improving her budgets and savings plan.

Per Scholas Soapbox Feature

SoapBox Cincinnati recently highlighted the Per Scholas program at CityLink Center. The article discusses Per Scholas’ non-traditional classroom and a-typical training platform, and how it is literally changing the face of Information Technology (IT). The article will continue to be updated over the next few months, introducing readers to current Per Scholas students, and sharing success of alumni who have graduated into gainful employment.

Check out the article here!

 

Getting from Point A to Point B

Lack of connectivity between good paying jobs and people who need them is a huge hindrance to our community.

The lack of transportation connectivity inhibits the ability for our clients to attain better wages at locations that are off the public transit system while stifling growth of businesses who are starved for talent.

This morning we engaged in two exciting conversations:

  • We invited Chariot to Cincinnati to engage with local businesses and organizations to evaluate their market driven, flexible solution for connecting employees to employers.  We learned about the company’s successful launch in SanFrancisco, Austin, Seattle, NewYork, and Columbus and hope that we build enough momentum for a local launch in Cincinnati.  This could open the doors to higher wage jobs and a broader talent pool for local corporations.

 

  • Beacon of Hope connects companies to hiring of individuals with criminal records, and continues to make great strides in expanding the benefit of 2nd chance hiring to more companies.  During their monthly update, several companies shared how individuals with felonies have become their most reliable and trusted employees.  This is not only a wonderful story of redemption but also an incredible story of economic opportunity as companies are forced to find new pools of talent in a tight labor market.

 

Opportunities to work with thoughtful and pragmatic organizations like these give us hope that our community will continue investing and supporting in the rungs of the ladder for our neighbors.  Systemic challenges of transportation and recidivism can be overcome….and we will lean into any effort to see innovative solutions brought to our community.

The Road to Success

In December of 2016, life had become difficult for Gerald. As a single father caring for his disabled adult son, he found himself without a car or a job. He came into CityLink for the first time with goals of obtaining employment, paying off all of his debt, and purchasing a car through ChangingGears.

When he first began his journey, Gerald did not qualify for ChangingGears. Without a steady job, he was not meeting the earned income requirements to purchase a vehicle. He began regularly meeting with his job coach at Cincinnati Works to work on his resume. Eventually, he earned a job through his resources as a military veteran. With this new job, Gerald continued to meet with his financial counselor, and was able to pay off all of his debt and get approved for ChangingGears. The day he received the keys to his car, he was able to pay off his entire car loan as well! Now, he no longer has to spend $300 per month ‘Uber-ing’ around town.

While working towards his ChangingGears goal, he was able to visit the onsite Health and Wellness Center, where he received optical appointments and a new pair of glasses. He says that his experience with the Health and Wellness Center was great – scheduling appointments was very easy, and there was never a long wait time for appointments.

Additionally, Gerald took advantage of clinical counseling through Catholic Charities, and was able to receive professional clothes for interviews through Clothing Connection. He says that having all of these services in one location is the best part about CityLink, and that he recommends CityLink to different people all the time.

Gerald’s hard work for over a year finally lead to him purchasing a car from ChangingGears and allowing him to easily travel to and from work. Gerald’s persistence paid off, it’s what the bible calls Chutzpah. That fire in our belly that keeps us focused on our goals.  Jesus likes that kind of persistence himself. He is impressed by the Gentile woman who argues with him until he heals her daughter (Mark 7:26). He also tells a parable of a widow who keeps pounding on the door of the judge until he hears her case (Luke 18:1-7). If an unrighteous judge will grant her request because she is persistent, how much more will a good and loving God answer her prayers! This is to teach us that we should always pray and never give up. Doing so shows that we believe in God’s power and His abundant love for us.