GreenLight Fund invests $600K to launch employment center

The GreenLight Fund will invest $600,000 to bring the Center for Employment Opportunities, a New York City-based nonprofit, to Cincinnati. This is GreenLight’s first investment locally.

GreenLight selected the center to provide immediate and comprehensive employment services to men and women with recent criminal convictions. The structured and supervised programs help participants regain the skills and confidence needed to transition to stable, productive lives.

GreenLight’s focus this year is on young people, ages 16-24, who are not actively engaged in work or school. In Hamilton County, more than 13,000 young people are not on track for success in adulthood.

The Center for Employment Opportunities has been most successful when working with those at the highest risk of returning to prison, including these young people.

The program will join the collaborative partnership at CityLink, where integrated case management will support and engage CEO clients with existing programs, including Cincinnati Works, SmartMoney and Catholic Charities.

“What makes this model unique is that it provides individuals with immediate access to transitional employment,” said 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.

The model will be an important piece of the Child Poverty Collaborative’s work, as well. Ohio has the fourth-highest rate of children with an incarcerated parent.

The Center for Employment Opportunities will serve 150 individuals during its first year in Cincinnati, with programming scheduled to begin next spring. Transitional job contracts through state and local government agencies will provide participants the chance to earn a daily paycheck as well as work experience. The program will help participants move into full-time jobs and provide post-job placement support.

In addition to $600,000 in start-up capital, GreenLight Fund will take a seat on the local advisory board, advise on business planning and support connections to local partners and funders. Founding investors in GreenLight Cincinnati include the Deaconess Associations Foundation, Bethesda Inc., the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee, Interact for Health, Procter & Gamble, United Way of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children’s, the Cincinnati Business Committee and Bank of America.,

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