A nonprofit organization formed in 1976, Towards Employment (TE) has empowered over 122,000 people to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through employment.

1976 Under the leadership of Soad Mansour (Executive Director, 1976-1996), Manpower Supportive Services, a program of Neighborhood Centers Association, was formed to develop and implement supportive services for  individuals seeking employment and / or starting a new job. Services included bus tickets and other transportation supports, childcare, tools, boots, uniforms, health exams and eyeglasses.

1988 Manpower Supportive Services was incorporated as Towards Employment.

1992 Towards Employment begins to provide job readiness training, job placement, and retention support for low-income Greater Cleveland residents who are transitioning off public assistance.

2000 Now under the leadership of Walter Ginn (Executive Director 1996-2006) TE added a worksite based job retention model, ACHIEVE. This increased employer focus brought TE  recognition as a national leader in job retention support.

2004 TE joined with Cleveland Works and added specific programming to assist individuals with prior criminal justice system involvement successfully enter the workforce.

2011 Now led by its third executive director, Jill Rizika, TE was selected to coordinate the Northeastern Ohio implementation of WorkAdvance, an innovative national workforce initiative that was replicated in New York City and Tulsa in addition to Northeast Ohio. Supported by the federal Social Innovation Fund, and with local investment from the Fund for Our Economic Future , WorkAdvance delivers a continuum of aligned services to meet business needs and move low-income individuals onto manufacturing and health care career pathways.

2014 TE received a multi-year direct grant from the United States Department of Labor to deliver career pathway programming for individuals returning from incarceration via work release programs or halfway houses. Cuyahoga County also recognized the importance of pre-release employment programming as a part of the reform work of the county jail and expands its partnership with TE and Ohio Means Jobs to deliver pre-release employment services. Also in 2014, Jill Rizika, TE’s Executive Director, was honored as one of 16 White House Reentry and Employment Champions of Change. Champions of Change is an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals across the nation doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their community. Per the White House, “The Champions have distinguished themselves through their extraordinary dedication and hard work to help those with criminal records reenter society with dignity and viable employment opportunities.”

2015 TE’s  current program, staff, partnership, and funding models are based on successful adaptation of a career pathways theory of change, the driving goal of TE’s most recent completed strategic plan. TE helps people prepare for a job, get a job, keep a job, and ascend a career ladder to a family-sustaining wage through ownership and implementation of a practical, achievable personal plan.