Future + Envision

Cultivating a New Generation of Health Care Professionals

Greater Cleveland health care employers have more than 3,700 unfilled openings in the allied health field—and the gap between available jobs and people with the skills to perform them will widen as baby boomers retire. That's why our MyCom (My Commitment, My Community) initiative has joined the Northeast Ohio Health, Science, and Innovation Coalition to encourage regional hospital systems to invest in young people as the foundation of their future workforce strategies. Planning gears up in 2012, with opportunities for shadowing, field trips, summer jobs, and internships in 2013. In addition to building a pipeline of aspiring nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, and radiology technicians, this program aims to keep kids in school, make class work more relevant to them, and prompt them to think about completing higher education in two to four years.

MyCom aspires to mold youths into productive adults

From a Cleveland Foundation-inspired gathering in 2007 to shape youth development strategies, MyCom has grown into a $4.8 million public-private partnership that helps children in eight diverse pilot neighborhoods advance toward stable, successful adulthood. More than 23,000 young people from kindergarten through high school have been touched by MyCom through after-school programs, summer jobs, leadership training, and other opportunities. Connecting participants with a web of services, positive experiences, and caring adults, MyCom prepares them to fulfill their potential and lead exemplary lives.

2011 brought validation of this model: Cuyahoga County, our principal partner, resolved to integrate its own youth services into MyCom, setting the stage to take MyCom to scale beyond the pilot neighborhoods. Maintaining this momentum, in March 2012 we granted $825,000 to the Neighborhood Leadership Institute to develop a neighborhood engagement strategy for the eight MyCom neighborhoods and $500,000 to Youth Opportunities Unlimited to directly fund 375 positions and leverage 1,625 additional positions in the MyCom summer jobs program. This grant, along with support from the city of Cleveland and the business community, funded employment for teens needing not only the income, but the structure, mentoring, and work experience.

Peacemakers reclaim kids from the streets

On call 24/7, the caring, committed members of the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance reach out to young people threatened or victimized by street violence, as well as to the perpetrators. Trained in conflict mediation and crisis prevention and response, the peacemakers canvass city neighborhoods to build relationships with residents and broker peace.

Alliance members have confiscated illegal guns from children as young as 12. Through home visits, mentoring, and other strategies, they strive to improve kids' school attendance and grades, engage them in productive activities that fill out-of-school time, enroll them in workforce training, and help them resist the lure of Cleveland's 260 identified gangs.

With a $600,000 grant to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland, we're supporting this mission. In 2012, the alliance's 10 gang outreach workers are recruiting a total 480 youths. Four case managers will link these youngsters with services.

Data from 2011 substantiate the peacemakers' effectiveness. Among 404 young people in the program, criminal activity decreased 39 percent, school attendance increased 675 percent, and 48 percent saw an improvement in family relationships.

The key to re-entry: getting hired

Released from incarceration, returning citizens need jobs, but finding work can be a challenge. Partnering with Cuyahoga County, we are piloting an innovative career development program that pairs for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations to offer re-entrants hands-on instruction that leads to certification and jobs that pay living wages. Training in professional and "soft" skills started in 2012, with an initial goal of certifying 100 participants.

Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries directs training in food preparation at its Central Kitchen, which serves local homeless shelters. Led by Career Development and Placement Services, Expert Reclaim instructs trainees in home renovation. And VERGE Beauty Industry and Advisory Group developed Signature Style, a salon business that trains re-entrants to be licensed hair stylists, massage therapists, and manicurists.