Tipping Point awards tip toward growth

One of these years, I swear, Miss Bigelow will persuade Daniel Lurie to change his Tipping Point Awards Breakfast to a lunch.

That said, it was a good thing my alarm was double-set last week, as I almost nailed the 8 a.m. arrival time at the St. Regis Hotel, where three grantees of this poverty-fighting organization founded by Lurie were honored at the eighth annual awards ceremony.

Especially as some generous guest, whose name we were unable to wrest from Lurie, whispered in his ear that if Lurie did not yet have a match donation, this donor would provide a dollar-for-dollar million-dollar match if TP supporters raised the same amount by Dec. 31.

On the podium: Center for Employment Opportunities CEO Sam Schaeffer and business manager Theresa Castor; Anne Kirwan, Bay Area managing director for Upwardly Global, and former client Siavash Fahimi; and Reading Partners CEOMichael Lombardo with teacher Emily Rosa and student Sione Laulea.

“I was nervous to go to Reading Partners,” said Sione, a fourth-grader at the Oakland public charter school Learning WithoutLimits College Preparatory Academy.

“But the best thing I learned was having faith in myself.”

Each of these Tipping Point grantee organizations received a $50K boost for their efforts in the fight to improve the lives of those who struggle to meet such basic needs as shelter, educational opportunities and employment.

And John Amster, CEO and co-founder of RPX Corp., was honored for joining SF Gives, the antipoverty initiative formed by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and administered by Tipping Point, which tasks 20 corporations to contribute a minimum of $500K to fund Bay Area charitable programs.

“San Francisco is an amazing place of opportunity and prosperity,” said Sara Recktenwald, Goldman Sachs managing director. “But what inspired me to to join Tipping Point’s Leadership Council is that 1 in 5 people here live in poverty, and basic needs like living with your mom or having a bowl of food just aren’t available to everyone in the Bay Area.”

Also among fans: TP board members including Ronnie Lott, Kate Harbin-Clammer, Alec Perkins, David Lamond,Chris James, Katie Paige, Zachary Bogue, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins and Jed York, along with Doris Fisher; JaMeland Tom Perkins; Jon Gruber; Pam and Larry Baer; Jonathan Moscone; Hosain Rahman and Alicia Engstrom; and Lurie’s wife, Becca Prowda; mom, Mimi Haas; and dad, Rabbi Brian Lurie.

Lombardo, a Cal grad who hails from Michigan, spoke about his love for education that was fostered by his father. And since landing in 2006 as CEO of Reading Partners, an early literacy program that works in partnership with public schools, he’s developed the organization from six Silicon Valley schools to more than 40 school districts serving some 9,000 students nationwide.

Yet the literacy stats of the largest city in Lombardo’s home state, where roughly only 47 percent of adults can read, trouble him.

“San Francisco may be a place of prosperity of innovation,” he said. “But if you look at our public schools, the future of San Francisco does not look bright. It looks like Detroit.”

And Lurie admitted to feeling uncomfortable when his barber recently declared that San Francisco is no longer a place where just anyone can arrive and seek opportunity.

He also cited research showing that when people walk by homeless people on the street, the area in their brain that lights up is one that registers an object.

“That means we are no longer seeing the homeless as people,” Lurie said. “In almost 10 years of doing this work, I know change can take time.”

Yet time seems to be on his side: Since founding TP in 2005, Lurie has grown his organization to fund 47 Bay Area grantees that challenge the social ills caused by poverty. He and his deep-pocketed board, which funds every penny of TP operating costs, have raised some $80 million in thoseyears.

Recently they launched T Lab, an R&D investment plan that pairs nine innovators who map new methods to assist organizations that promote the areas of post-prison societal re-entry, early education and child care. Yet the success of his organization is not a complete surprise.

“When I worked at Robin Hood in New York, I experienced firsthand how to successfully raise funds to effect change,” said Lurie. “But even with our growth, I realize we’re just scratching the surface to eradicate the social ills caused by poverty. Much work remains for us. But I’m humbled by the support we’ve received and even more determined that we can advance more improvements for our community.”

Oh, and save the date: On April 30, Tipping Point will celebrate its 10th anniversary at its annual gala, wherein they hope to top up their funding to a record $100 million.

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Up and Down the SIB Road: How Far Have We Come?


By Catalina Geib and Rita Perakis on 12/4/14

There is no denying that interest in Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) is steadily growing: with investments coming from big banks like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch and approximately 26 SIBs implemented in industrialized countries across the globe (see below for a more detailed listing), an evidence base is starting to accumulate on what works and what doesn’t. So far, the evidence on Social Impact Bonds – that they enable innovation and improve service delivery through better use of data – suggests that this approach has huge potential for improving international development programs.

CGD has been exploring through its work on Development Impact Bonds the ways in which the SIB model, first piloted in the UK, could be tested in developing countries and could create a better business model for the way programs operate.  While DIBs are a new concept – so far only one has been launched in June of this year with service provision to begin next year – the SIB market has been gradually growing since the launch of the first SIB in 2010. The evidence gathered over the next few years will determine whether SIBs can catapult to being a standard option for funding programs in the social sectors.

This was part of the discussion at a launch event hosted at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) in London on the 31st  of October, where BAML and Bridges Ventures presented their joint publication“Choosing Social Impact Bonds – A practitioner’s guide”. The report shares lessons learned during SIB implementation processes over the last four years. Although no SIBs have been completed and fully evaluated yet, clear emerging lessons arise from several pilots that can be applied to future SIBs and DIBs. We have discerned two key takeaways:

1) SIBs increase the scope for innovation in service delivery

A focus on outcomes and a flexible funding model are proving to trigger an increase in the scope for innovation. The BAML-Bridges Ventures report highlights two examples from the UK in particular: In Greater Manchester, the UK Department for Work and Pensions Innovation Fund has commissioned a SIB with the “Teens and Toddlers” program. Although Teens and Toddlers has already developed a track record for increasing self-esteem and tackling disengagement among youths by pairing teenagers with toddlers, its reach and impact expanded under the SIB, as Social Finance UK, the intermediary in this case, further discuss in this report of the SIB’s first year.

The Teens and Toddlers program initially involved working with teenagers for 18 weeks, through nursery placements and personal development group work to help them acquire a sense of direction, positive relationships and responsibility. For the SIB in particular, a second stage was added which applies skills teenagers have learned to school behavior and academic studies, and tracks teenagers’ progress through to their secondary school exams. In Stage 2, students set learning and behavioral goals and address issues that could impact their academic performance. The SIB provided sufficient room to establish and innovate the program to include specific educational outcomes; in addition, the flexible funding model allowed the provision of a sub-contractor who would tutor students in English and in Maths to guarantee the best outcomes.

The second example, in Essex, implemented by “Action for Children” together with Social Finance UK and Essex County Council, utilizes the Multi – Systemic Therapy (MST) intervention method. This method is applied to prevent children aged 11-17 in Essex who show anti-social or offending behavior from going into care by providing therapeutic support to them and their families, throughout weekends and overnight where necessary. The intervention focuses on positive behaviors and strengths of the young person and family to encourage long-lasting change. Like “Teens and Toddlers”, MST is an evidence-based program with a good track record and global footprint, but it had not been implemented on a wide scale in the UK. When the SIB was developed, Essex County Council was hesitant to fund a new and intensive program upfront while resources for children’s services were constrained. Under the SIB, investors provided the financing for a five and half year intervention program that aims to work with 380 young people, while Essex County agreed to only paying for successful results. The SIB also includes an “Evolution Fund”, which is a discretionary fund that gives the NGO service provider the flexibility to incorporate new services into the program, if needed, to address individuals’ needs (see this report for more details about how the SIB is working).

The most important aspect of increased innovation under SIBs is therefore that local service providers are implementing changes themselves, but receiving flexible funding in order to be able to do so. This is also true in the case of DIBs. According to Robin Horn, Head of Education at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), the outcome funder for the first DIB, “the local service provider has the main say and outcomes are not just based on the knowledge of funders.”

2) Better data collection leads to improving service delivery

SIBs are also showing that better data management systems – implemented to ensure objective validations of outcomes – have led to an improvement in service delivery. David Robinson, chair of the One Service Social Impact Bond Advisory Group for the Peterborough SIB, explained that following the SIB model has planted an incentive structure for an improved dataset service. Typically, service providers or intermediaries who manage service providers develop improved data systems to track performance in a timely and accurate way. For example, during the course of the intervention period of the Peterborough SIB, it became clear that the cohort’s reoffending behavior greatly depended on unresolved mental health issues. This led to the implementation of mental health services, which were not a part of the original package of interventions. Effective use of data – orlearning by measuring –proves to be at the heart of things.

Another recent example from the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), the service provider of the SIB to reduce recidivism in the State of New York, shows a similar development: data is collected regularly on an individual level and, as a result of weekly calls between CEO and parole officers who identify eligible individuals, a new forum for sharing data materialized and once again services were able to more quickly respond to peoples’ needs. The report highlights interviews with people directly involved who say that these improved systems and improved coordination have been transformative for the government and the service provider.

These key takeaways are a good reminder about why partners from various sectors came together to implement SIBs in the first place. As the BAML guide mentions, the cross-sector partnerships prove to be one of the most encouraging aspects of a SIB: they have created an on-going dialogue about the best way to tackle pressing socio-economic issues, with each partner doing what it does best.

The DIB market is younger, but lessons are beginning to emerge from early experiences in the development of DIBs too; a range of partners who have been involved will be taking stock at aconference in London on December 10th.

The fact that SIB partners are taking advantage of expanded space for innovation and improved data collection systems is a good reminder that we can improve development programs on these dimensions too, and one reason why we hope to see DIBs quickly implemented.

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Tipping Point Community Holds Eighth Annual Awards Breakfast

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SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Three Bay Area nonprofits working to create opportunities for thousands of individuals and families to break the cycle of poverty were honored at Tipping Point Community’s 8th Annual Awards Breakfast this morning.

“After almost 10 years of doing this work, I remain an optimist,” said Daniel Lurie, Tipping Point Founder + CEO. “Last year our grantees served more than 133,000 people. But programs like these don’t just change one life – they change entire families and communities. They stop a cycle of poverty in its tracks.”

Center for Employment Opportunities, Reading Partners and Upwardly Global were recognized this morning for their service to Bay Area residents and each honoree received a grant of $50,000. Tipping Point also honored the 20 founding partners of SF Gives for their leadership and commitment to invest $10 million in life-changing services for the 1.3 million Bay Area residents too poor to meet their basic needs. Tipping Point Board members Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins and Zachary Bogue and Leadership Council member Sara Recktenwald were on hand to present the awards.

The 2014 Tipping Point grantee honorees:
“This morning there are seven million children in the U.S. waking up with a parent in prison, jail or on supervision, and those children are about 6 times more likely to end up in the justice system themselves,” said Sam Shaeffer, CEO of Center for Employment Opportunities. “There is a lot that can make you hesitant about committing your career to prisoner reentry. Numbers, especially. The statistics can be overwhelming and discouraging. But they also make you feel like you have to do something.”

“To land a job in the U.S. especially, it’s not a linear approach,” said Siavash Fahimi, a former Upwardly Global client. “It’s not one decision that leads you to a job. It’s a combination of so many different things, meeting different people. Without Upwardly Global, it would have been trial and error. It would have taken so much time…time that I did not have to spare.”

“At Reading Partners, our goal is simple: to close the 4th grade reading achievement gap,” said Michael Lombardo, CEO + Founder of Reading Partners. “We do that by unleashing the slumbering giant of human capital that is volunteer service in America to provide an army of tutors for children struggling with reading.”

The 2014 Tipping Point partner honoree:
SF Gives started as a 60-day $10 million corporate challenge launched by Tipping Point and 20 leading local businesses to fight poverty in the San Francisco Bay Area. The founding members are Apple, Box, Comcast Ventures, Dropbox, Google, IfOnly, Jawbone, Jelly, Levi Strauss & Co., LinkedIn, Lookout, Microsoft, Okta, Partner Fund Management, POPSUGAR, RPX Corporation, Salesforce Foundation, SV Angel, Workday Foundation, and

About Tipping Point Community: Since 2005, Tipping Point Community has raised more than $80 million to educate, employ, house and support nearly 365,000 Bay Area people in need. Tipping Point screens nonprofits rigorously to find, fund and partner with the most promising organizations helping low-income people achieve self-sufficiency. 100% of every dollar donated fights

SOURCE Tipping Point Community


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Connecting Talent With a Greater Purpose: It Matters


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From the perspective of a nonprofit, finding smart, passionate, and talented people to work with you for free is a clear win. But why do professionals engage in skills-based volunteering and pro bono projects? The growth of opportunities to engage with a cause in low-effort, high visibility ways via micro-donations and social media shares should consistently push goodwill to the path of least resistance, away from deep, intensive interactions like pro bono. Engaging in a pro bono project to create a marketing plan or a new website for a nonprofit is the practical opposite of hashtag activism. It requires significant, real effort and personal commitment from a volunteer, with limited visibility or virality.

Yet, despite all that, there is a growing trend among professionals who volunteer, not just their time, but also their skills to help build capacity among nonprofit and other for-purpose organizations. The need has been consistently pervasive, a survey from Deloitte in 2006 showed that 77% of nonprofits believe their business practices would benefit from skilled volunteers. Meanwhile the willingness among volunteers is startlingly high. 82% of surveyed Linkedin members indicated a desire to volunteer their time and skills and 70% of Millennials consider “giving back and being civically engaged” their highest priority. Online tools such as Catchafire, Taproot+, npowerand VolunteerMatch have made it easier than ever for these passionate people and organizations to find each other, and a budding movement around skills-based volunteering (or “pro bono”) has formed.

The incredible thing about skills-based volunteering is it creates a range of social, emotional and professional benefits for volunteers. Enabling an organization you care about to feed more families, mentor more children or open access to the arts by leveraging your unique skills has a massive ROI; the increase in impact of skills-based volunteering vastly exceeds the increase in effort by spending 20 or 30 hours with an organization. Beyond the warm fuzzies, volunteers see additional benefits by honing their professional skills in real-life settings (practice does make perfect) and building meaningful relationships with people and organizations they may not otherwise encounter.

So what’s the role of an employer in this space? How and why should a company care about volunteering activities of their employees, any more than they would care where they go on vacation, or what movies they see? As one would expect when employees volunteer, especially on skills-based volunteer projects, employers reap their own rewards:

Community Impact. Increasingly, communities expect the companies that operate within them to behave as good citizens. Employees play a dual role as both members of a community and representatives of their employers. Skills-based volunteering serves as natural a bridge between these two worlds. When the creatives at MTV networks brought their talents and passions to the Center for Employment Opportunities, it generalized and expanded the value of what they do every day in a new, community driven context. The ROI is similarly compelling. At Catchafire, we typically see a 15 to 30X ROI in impact vs. the cost of creating and delivering these programs.

Employee Engagement. When employees work on the same things, day-in, day-out, it becomes easy to lose sight of the real value of your work. The Gallup organization found that 70% of workers are that “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.” Our internal findings at Catchafire have shown that volunteers undervalue their contributions relative to the nonprofits who receive them, by as much as 30%. Applying your job skills in a new context, with an organization that really benefits can breath new life into an employee’s perspective and put a spring back in their step on Monday morning.

Employee Development. Skills-based volunteering and pro bono projects present a fantastic opportunity for on-the-job training in a unique context. By developing SBV programs companies can significantly expand the options for their employees to stretch their skills and show instead of tell why they are ready for a promotion or new role. Leading companies such as IBM, are even encouraging employees to fulfill professional development requirements via volunteering, creating unique, tailored and engaging opportunities to achieve impact while supporting the bottom line.

Companies with these objectives in mind can do a number of things to get started with skills-based volunteering and pro bono. Organizations like Taproot, npower, Common Impact, Catchafire and others directly create these opportunities for corporate partners across a variety of flavors. Foundations and other grant-makers can also serve as excellent thought partners to develop smart direct relationships with their grantees. Many companies, such as NetSuite also directly link their own corporate philanthropy efforts with pro bono, soliciting employee volunteers to both scope and develop project ideas and execute those projects. The best thing to do is to get started. The case for skills-based volunteering is strong and the need is significant. Companies that engage will see happier, more effective employees and build stronger communities for them, all at a low cost with big impact.




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WNYers keep close eye on creek levels

WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Fear and anxiety are far from over, even though the snow has ended in South Buffalo and the southtowns. People in the hard hit areas are anxious and worried about the possibility of flooding.

Residents are keeping a close eye on creeks, Monday.  The mayor deployed the Center for Employment Opportunities to help shovel out elderly citizens.

The organization’s senior supervisor says they have a couple dozen people out shoveling, working to help people who’ve been stuck in their homes. They’ve been out for the past few days to provide aid to those who can’t physically do it themselves.

“It’s so gratifying to help an elderly person out that’s stuck in the house. Some of the couldn’t even get out of their doors the snow was so high. Just to do that and then they can get out of the house, it’s like a thing of security for them, they’re very appreciative of us,” said Lonnie Angel, of the Center for Employment Opportunities.

South Buffalo resident Jay Burney said, “It’s a pretty frightening scene. We’ve been expecting this flood and it looks like the creek is rising, I haven’t heard the last predictions if it’s going to continue to rise, rain may be coming, snow continues to melt, it’s a scary situation.”

Low-lying homes are in danger of flooding from the Buffalo Creek. Officials and National Guardsmen have laid down almost 1,000 sandbags in the neighborhood of Lexington Green, in West Seneca.

The creek is already known for its ice jamming problems and last year local residents dealt with monstrous flooding. However, they are extremely happy with the strong military response they’ve received.

Some even got emotional when describing it.

Larry Miceli said, “I can’t come up with the words to express the gratitude that I’m feeling for the National Guardsmen who are coming to sandbag our windows.”

“We’re just very thankful for all the support we’ve been receiving and it’s just awful to think this might happen again,” a resident explained.

An emergency response team from West Seneca is staking out Buffalo Creek at the Stevenson Foot Bridge. Two people were standing by all night, to gauge the water levels. They are watching for an ice jam, which could back up and flood west Seneca.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has explained there are dozens of boats, pumps, sand bags to respond to potential emergencies. He said they’re a precautionary measure, noting he hopes they don’t need to use the tools they’ve brought in. Officials have brought materials from the following list to several staging areas, one of which is Erie Community College’s north campus.

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13 Nonprofits Get Grants to Encourage Openness in Philanthropy

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November 20, 2014

By Debra E. Blum
A new, seven-foundation partnership created to support nonprofits working to collect feedback and be more effective today announced its first round of grants.

The Fund for Shared Insight has awarded 13 organizations a total of $5.26-million in 14 separate grants of one to three years, designed “to accelerate the culture of listening” among nonprofits, according to Melinda Tuan, a spokesman for the group.

A news release says the grants are intended “to encourage and incorporate feedback from the people the social sector seeks to help; understand the connection between feedback and better results; foster more openness between and among foundations and grantees; and share lessons.”

The biggest single award—$700,000 for one year—will go to GlobalGiving, an online fundraising site that connects donors with development projects overseas. Ms. Tuan says the money will support GlobalGiving’s efforts to build, test, and share new tools to help nonprofits collect feedback from their constituents. One example is Global Giving’s Storytelling Project, an effort to learn what residents of other countries think about the nonprofits that serve them.

Habitat for Humanity International, among the largest charities to receive a grant, was awarded $600,000 for up to three years to improve and systematize the way it gathers and uses feedback from residents in the 220 U.S. communities where it works.

Keystone Accountability, a nonprofit consultant that developed Constituent Voice, a feedback tool used by many organizations (including at least a handful of the other grantees), will get $300,000 to develop Feedback Commons, an effort to openly share resources and research among nonprofits.

The Fund for Shared Insight, created in July, is a collaboration among the Rita Allen, Ford, William and Flora Hewlett, JPB, W.K. Kellogg, and David and Lucile Packard Foundations, along with the charitable arm of Liquidnet, a financial trading company. Together, the organizations have committed $18-million over three years, with plans to give away at least $5-million to $6-million a year, or more if additional grant makers join.

The fund, which received nearly 200 proposals for its first round of grants, plans to provide individualized feedback to all rejected applicants—that pledge, it said, was part of how it hoped to show grant makers ways to promote openness about decision making. It also plans to circulate a survey to get applicants’ views on the grants process and ideas on how to improve it.

The additional grantees announced today are: The Center for Employment Opportunity, Feedback Labs, LIFT, the Center for Effective Philanthropy (for its YouthTruth project and for separate research), Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, a joint project by the Urban Institute and Feeding America, Creative Commons, Exponent Philanthropy, the Foundation Center, and GiveWell.

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Another Voice: Workforce development plays key role in job market


By Jeffrey M. Conrad

A recent Buffalo News article highlighted the need for skilled workers in Buffalo’s growing economy. The article aptly stated that our educational institutions will play a critical role in preparing students for tomorrow’s job market. However, our next workforce is years from entering the job market. Industries such as health care, advanced manufacturing, construction and tourism are expanding now, creating an immediate need for trained and skilled workers. Workforce development can and should play a pivotal role in meeting today’s workforce needs.

The economic development boom we are experiencing translates into jobs, and for workforce development agencies this means opportunities. Often times the “next big job market” simply never arrives, thus wasting time and money. However, this time is different, the jobs are here and many more are on the way. There is no guessing game, thanks to the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council and Empire State Development, which developed regional priorities that will provide the Buffalo area with opportunities for high-paying jobs for years to come.

There is no doubt that our region will be able to fill some of these jobs through many of the 8,000 college students that graduate locally each year, or through displaced Buffalonians who want to return home. However, we cannot dismiss the fact that there is a large constituency of undereducated, less-skilled workers currently living in poverty in the City of Buffalo who can benefit tremendously from current job opportunities. A large majority of these residents want to enter or re-enter the workplace, and many more incumbent workers are hoping to make a transition to these higher-paying jobs.

However, many residents are not sure how to gain access to these sectors, nor do they know what services or trainings are available.

Disconnect between residents and stakeholders is just one of several barriers that prohibit job seekers from finding gainful employment. Transportation, low literacy and math skills, and no money for vocational training are additional obstacles for many wishing to advance. All of these barriers can be remedied if the NFTA, the private sector, adult education and workforce development agencies come to the table and build a system that works for our regional needs. Today’s economic boom is a chance for Buffalo to reinvent itself.

This is not just about filling jobs; there are much larger impacts both socially and governmentally attached to building an effective workforce development system. Buffalo’s poverty statistics are very concerning, but most should be alleviated by providing ample opportunity for all residents who want to benefit from today’s progress.

Jeffrey M. Conrad is regional director of the Center for Employment Opportunities.

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Buffalo Bills Discounted Tickets Sale to Support CEO

The Buffalo Bills and the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County have extended an opportunity for for Bills fans to not only obtain discounted tickets for the Buffalo Bills vs. Cleveland Browns game on November 30, 2014 at 1:00pm but also to support the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO).  A portion of every ticket purchased using the offer below will allow fans and supporters to deep discounts on tickets. CEO is very thankful to the Bills and the United Way for this opportunity! Please feel free to forward this to family, friends, and post on social media.
As always thank you for your support! Go Bills!Click here to buy: Offer code is GPUW

Buffalo Bills Fundraising Offer
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PRESS ENTERPRISE FOUNDATION SPOTLIGHT: Center for Employment Opportunities



Published: Oct. 18, 2014 5:38 p.m.

ndo1vm-b88226031z.120141018173831000gd85nd35.10Center for Employment Opportunities is a national organization that opened an office in San Bernardino last year, offering comprehensive employment services exclusively for people with criminal records.
Individuals returning to the community after being incarcerated often have challenges finding employment and reintegrating, and the center has been working to address this problem for more than 30 years. The New York-based nonprofit opened an office in San Bernardino in August 2013, working in partnership with the California State Reentry Initiative, San Bernardino Community College District and Caltrans.
While there are many services available for individuals with criminal records, the center provides employment and employment services. Participants take a weeklong course and then are given a work crew assignment, which helps them get used to a work routine and prepare for employment elsewhere. The center also offers clients support once they have secured a job for the next 365 days, encouraging monthly retention.
“Helping people return to the community and reestablishing stability creates pride and self-worth,” said Sarah Glenn-Leistikow, county director. “From a community perspective, it also improves economic stability.”
The center’s work crews, in partnership with Caltrans, perform roadside maintenance through litter abatement projects throughout the county. Currently, the San Bernardino office staffs two crews, with a goal of serving around 100 participants a year.
“We are a national organization, but we are very invested in our community, with creating partners, new relationships and collaboratives,” said Glenn-Leistikow. “We do a specific thing for a specific group of people, but it wouldn’t be possible without our other partners. We are looking to grow our partnerships, including work crew partnerships.”
According to Glenn-Leistikow, San Bernardino County has the second highest rate of people returning home from incarceration in the state. The organization offers its services countywide. While the center’s model is the same across the country and generally the programs are the same, working in San Bernardino County has its own challenges, the largest of which is the geographic expanse of the area.
“San Bernardino is one of the largest geographic counties in the country,” said Glenn-Leistikow. “There are real challenges to getting to work. It might take three hours on a bus. So managing meetings, classes and childcare as well as employment can become really prohibitive.”
Despite the challenges, in the year since the office opened, clients have had many successes.
“We had our first participant who made his 365-day mark,” said Glenn-Leistikow. “So he was placed and has been with the employer for over a year. He has a union job with benefits, which is a massive turnaround in that time period.”
Glenn-Leistikow also noted that some of the participants come into the program and earn the first pay check of their life.
“Having gainful employment makes people feel so much more positive about their lives. It also makes it less likely for them to return to the system,” she said.
Finding funding for programming has similar challenges to other nonprofit organizations. However, the center is slightly different, because close to 50 percent of the budget is met through contracts such as the current agreement with Caltrans. The center recently received a grant from the S.L. Gimbel Foundation through the Community Foundation to support vocational services and is hoping to expand programming with more work crews in the future.
Glenn-Leistikow noted that there are many social assumptions about people who have a criminal conviction, but overall, her experience has been that their clients are extremely hard-working and dedicated.
“We can tell after a year that the services are even more needed than we anticipated. We are excited to grow here and to be digging into the work for a long time,” she said.
To find out more about Center for Employment Opportunities visit or call 909-380-8822.
The Community Foundation’s mission is to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy. TCF does that by raising, stewarding and distributing community assets, working toward their vision of a vibrant, generous and just region—with unlimited opportunities. In 2014, the foundation has a renewed focus on building its endowment to ensure that The Community Foundation is here for good. Information: 951-241-7777 or

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Cleanliness is Major Part of Levin’s New Fiscal Budget

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Councilmember Steve Levin

Cleanliness is Major Part of Levin’s New Fiscal Budget

North Brooklyn is getting a cleanliness makeover.

Councilmember Steve Levin announced this week that he would be using a chunk of the funding allocated for the new fiscal year to help spruce up the neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

The new funds directed towards cleanliness are part of a citywide initiative. $3.5 million were added to the City Council’s budget to keep the city streets cleaner as part of a program titled Cleanup NYC Initiative.

Each Councilmember was awarded $68,628 for the cleanup work in their districts.

“Thanks to the City Council’s Cleanup NYC Initiative, I am thrilled that we will be able to help clean and beautify the neighborhoods of the 33rd District,” said Levin. “It is essential that each of our neighborhoods is a great place to live and raise a family and cleanliness is an important factor in accomplishing that. We are partnering with amazing groups to do this work in the 33rd District and I am excited to see these resources be put to good use.”

The funds will be utilized in the maintenance of streets and parks, to introduce new high-end litter baskets, and to beautify public spaces.

The assistance is a much-needed sign of relief for an area that for several years has borne the brunt of the city’s waste. Neighborhood groups like the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning (GWAPP) and Organizations United for Trash Reduction and Garbage Equity (OUTRAGE) have campaigned for years for the equitable distribution of this burden. Currently, North Brooklyn is home to 19 waste transfer stations and processes about 40 percent of the city’s trash.

And while the Council’s initiative won’t directly address the trash burden, it’s a step towards addressing the growing need of the neighborhood, especially in light of the rapidly escalating real estate developments in the neighborhood and the potential to bring in thousands more people into the neighborhood.

Levin’s office will partner with the Center for Employment Opportunities, the organization that provides life skills and employment opportunities to individuals with criminal records, to carry out the work entailed in the program.

“Engaging formerly incarcerated individuals in neighborhood clean-up and beautification projects provides them with much-needed income and structured job experience, while also encouraging these individuals to be stewards of their own communities,” said Sam Schaeffer, the Executive Director of Center for Employment Opportunities.

There are no dates at present about when the changes will begin taking effect.


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