Cincinnati, May 15, 2018
Prosperity for All (PfA) is not the first program to address the challenging problem of how to best assist people in working their way out of poverty.
But the two-year pilot’s unique approach is showing strong results, so much so that Easterseals has been awarded $212,000 from the United Way of Greater Cincinnati to expand PfA to serve 50 families and will be supplementing that expansion with additional funds from the City of Cincinnati Hand Up Initiative.
On Tuesday May 15, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, Cincinnati State President Dr. Monica Posey, and United Way Senior Vice President Ross Meyer joined Easterseals President and CEO Pam Green and PfA participants to announce the program’s expansion and goals for the future.
"Prosperity for All proves that when social services agencies, government, higher education, and employers collaborate, individuals who want to work their way out of poverty can get the support they truly need,” said Green. “And with the United Way’s generous assistance for expansion, not only will we be able to serve more individuals, but also their families.”
The results of the PfA pilot are impressive. At least 13 of the 33 participants from the pilot project have not only completed a training program (almost all at Cincinnati State) but have also obtained jobs in the health care or logistics industries. Six other participants have completed training and are looking for employment, and others are still working on their education.
The idea for Prosperity for All grew out of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s inaugural Leadership Action Class and its desire to help do something to lower Cincinnati’s high poverty rate and impact legislation that deals with poverty-to-work issues.
Class members soon discovered that many individuals trying to work their way out of poverty get caught in a Catch 22—you need at least some level of post-secondary education such as a certificate to get almost any job that pays a living wage. But if you stop working long enough to get that education, you become ineligible for state benefits designed to help people who are getting started in the workforce with transportation, childcare and other needs.
Not only did Prosperity for All raise funds and develop a platform of intensive career and personal guidance services for participants, but it also worked with Hamilton County Job and Family Services to institute a waiver that allows participants to continue receiving what are known as Ohio Works First benefits while they are getting their education.
PfA worked with Cincinnati State to identify short-term training programs through the college’s Workforce Development Center that would qualify participants to enter in-demand jobs that provide a living wage.
The Cincinnati State Foundation then provided $25,000 for training grants for PfA participants through its Workforce Focus Fund, which was instituted by President Monica Posey to address workforce development needs.
“We’re proud to partner with Prosperity for All to help students overcome barriers and succeed in education and the workforce,” said Dr. Monica Posey, president of Cincinnati State. “Our goal will be to continue raising funds for the Workforce Development so we can provide even more training scholarships for individuals such as the PfA participants.”