Our Story

We connect the ready-to-work with the ready-to-hire

Origins

In 2013, we could feel the weight of the job market shifting beneath us. In the throes of the still-lingering recession, employers had to be nimble with their resources while having the ability to ramp up and down with the ebbs and flows of the market. We too had to be nimble and expand our reach to integrate the many talented people throughout our city that sat on the sidelines of the mainstream workforce and were now looking to jump back in. And so, Cara Connects was born.


Enterprise

We are an enterprise of Cara, a workforce and leadership development organization helping people affected by poverty find and keep quality employment and, more important, rebuild hope, self-esteem and opportunity for themselves and their families in the process. We produce hundreds of jobs each year at one-year, same-firm retention rates over 20 points higher than national norms and with more than 70% of those retained residing in permanent housing in which their families can thrive.

Value

Our candidates need an on-ramp back to employment that honors their experience until date – something that isn’t training from the ground up but more a refresher to what the new normal of today’s workplace has evolved into. With candidates capable of performing in entry- and mid-level positions in office services, customer service, healthcare, janitorial, manufacturing, and hospitality, we were meaningfully expanding our portfolio, too. And our employers who had come to rely on us for direct placement services for over two decades now had something even more to value.

Results

Our results don’t just end with employment; we also maintain market-competitive businesses that create gateway jobs and we produce a profound social return on investment, where, for every dollar invested in this work, $5.97 is re-invested in society over a five-year time horizon. The work is important not only because of its clear goal of bringing individuals back to employment, but because of its clear mission to transform lives. Families become stronger, relationships are healed, and communities become more vibrant because nothing gives you a positive outlook on life like a job.

Recognition

In a space that engages such great movers and shakers in the work of poverty alleviation, we are deeply honored to have received the following affirmations of our work:

  • 2016 REDF National Portfolio of Leading Social Enterprises
  • 2015 Chicago Innovation Award for Social Innovator

Make a Donation

Your gift goes to work so every Cara participant can. We greatly appreciate any consideration you can give in support of our mission.

$28
$28
Gives a participant a 7-day transit card to get to Cara. $28
$50
$50
Covers the first deposit for a Cara participant to open a bank account. $50
$115
$115
Means a Cleanslate intern gets a pair of work boots. $115
$200
$200
Covers an eye exam and glasses for a Cara participant. $200
$500
$500
Gives one-time rental assistance to keep a Cara family in their home. $500
$1,200
$1,200
Gives 2 weeks of Cara's critical training to a motivated job-seeker. $1,200
$2,500
$2,500
Lands 1 Cara candidate into a permanent job. $2,500
$4,500
$4,500
Gives an employed Cara participant 2 years of retention and career-advancement coaching. $4,500
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