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