Announcement, News, Press Release

GreenLight Cincinnati selects first portfolio organization: Center for Employment Opportunities

Nov 2, 2016



Tara Noland, Executive Director
GreenLight Fund Cincinnati
1311 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
[email protected]


The GreenLight Fund invests $600,000 to launch Center for Employment Opportunities in Cincinnati, providing a second chance for citizens with recent criminal convictions

Cincinnati, OH – The GreenLight Fund (GreenLight) today announced a $600,000 investment to bring the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a New York City-based nonprofit, to Cincinnati. GreenLight selected CEO as its first portfolio organization for its proven ability to provide immediate, effective and comprehensive employment services to men and women with recent criminal convictions. Their highly structured and tightly supervised programs help participants regain the skills and confidence needed for successful transitions to stable, productive lives.

GreenLight’s selection cycle this year focused on young people, aged 16-24, who are not actively engaged in either work or school. In Hamilton County alone, more than 13,000 young people are not on track for success in adulthood and when these young people also face a recent criminal conviction, their odds of success later in life are even lower. The Center for Employment Opportunities is most successful when working with those at the highest risk of returning to prison, including these young people. The program will join the collaborative partnership at CityLink where integrated case management will support and engage CEO clients with existing programs, including Cincinnati Works, SmartMoney, Catholic Charities and others.

“What makes this model unique is that it provides individuals with immediate access to transitional employment,” explains Tara Noland, Executive Director of GreenLight Cincinnati. “Their track record for success in reducing recidivism is unparalleled, and when that cycle can be broken for good, the community saves tremendous resources and struggling families can rebuild.” A 2012 cost-benefit analysis demonstrated up to $3.30 in benefits (cost savings from criminal justice expenditures and value of transitional work crews to government agencies) for every $1 spent on the program.

This model will be an important piece of the Child Poverty Collaborative’s work, as well. Ohio has the fourth-highest rate of children with an incarcerated parent, and the Collaborative has identified these families as needing additional support. “A family with a parent in prison or returning home is facing many additional barriers to self-sufficiency,” says Lynn Marmer, executive director of the Child Poverty Collaborative. “GreenLight’s investment in this program provides a desperately needed resource for these families to begin rebuilding and working toward a stable future.”

CEO will serve 150 individuals during its first year in Cincinnati, with programming scheduled to begin in Spring 2017. Transitional job contracts through state and local government agencies provide participants with the chance to earn a daily paycheck as well as valuable work experience. CEO helps participants move into full-time jobs and provides post-job placement support. CEO Sam Schaeffer highlights Ohio as a key expansion site for the organization: “We are thrilled to bring our nationally-recognized program into Cincinnati and especially excited to do so with a strong partnership with the GreenLight Fund. Our expansion is targeted at the states who need this model most and we are incredibly grateful for their continued support of our shared mission in Cincinnati.”

“GreenLight is supporting CEO because of its track record of results and the potential for impact here,” says John McIlwraith, chair of GreenLight’s local Selection Advisory Council and co-founder and managing partner of Allos Ventures. Like a traditional venture partner, GreenLight Fund will play an active role in ensuring CEO has an impact on the Cincinnati community over the next several years. In addition to $600,000 in start-up capital, GreenLight Fund will take a seat on the local advisory board, advise on business planning, and support connections to local partners and funders. In the next five years, GreenLight will help CEO to continue growth in Cincinnati and Ohio, serving over 800 individuals, while achieving the highest fidelity to their model and creating sustainable impact.

About the GreenLight Fund:
The GreenLight Fund transforms the lives of children, youth and families in high-poverty urban areas by creating local infrastructure and a consistent annual process to: identify critical needs; import innovative, entrepreneurial programs that have a significant, measurable impact; and galvanize local support to help programs reach and sustain impact in the new city. Working in Boston since 2003, Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay Area since 2012, Cincinnati since 2015 and most recently Detroit in 2016, GreenLight aims to grow a national network of GreenLight sites that learn and work collaboratively to find and spread proven nonprofit solutions that achieve meaningful and measurable impact in our communities on the issues that matter most. Founding investors in GreenLight Cincinnati include the Deaconess Associations Foundation, Bethesda Inc., the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee, Interact for Health, Procter and Gamble, United Way of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children’s, the Cincinnati Business Committee, Bank of America and a number of individual investors.  Learn more at:

About the Center for Employment Opportunities:
The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) is dedicated to providing immediate, effective and comprehensive employment services to men and women with recent criminal convictions. CEO operates in eleven cities across four states, helping 4,500 participants annually to regain the skills and confidence needed for successful transitions to stable, productive lives. Learn more at: