The original program started in Cleveland in 2002. The program is a free 10-week faith-based career development program, (Spring and Fall) that brings churches and businesses together to train, mentor and employ area residents. Mt. Zion Congregational Church, UCC has been a host church since 2005. The organization is run thru the church with around 45 individuals being part of the entire program. The management team is comprised of five (5) Mt. Zion members. The other volunteers, clergy, instructors, mentors, hospitality, etc. are comprised of Mt. Zion members, as well as others from around the Cleveland area and are represented by various congregations.
The instructional program is broken into two parts…
Part 1, “Foundations” is the Faith teaching and this portion is taught by a pastor or minister. The instructor will lead each student through a 10-part series of weekly studies that include topics such as: Who am I, Who is God, God and Relationships, Respecting Authority, Conflict Resolution, Communication and Attitude, Integrity, and Striving for Excellence.
Part 2, “Pathways” is the soft skills portion and a Human Resource professional teaches applicable job search skills such as resume writing, interviewing techniques, goal setting, career development, budgeting, and workplace etiquette, etc.
As part of the program, a career fair is held where companies attend and the students get to meet with prospective employers in a smaller informal setting whereby they get to speak directly with the representative and they get to put into practice their interviewing skills learned during class. This prepares the students for stepping out of the classroom and into their active job search.
Upon completion of the program there is a celebration to recognize the success of each student where an official graduation ceremony is held and the student receives a certificate of completion. Families attend the graduation and after graduation the student, their families, JOBS staff and volunteers and the congregation get together for a celebration dinner.
Students are from all areas of Cleveland and approximately 50 students graduate from the program annually. Historically around 70% of the graduates obtain jobs and approximately 30% of the students have been incarcerated. There are two programs annually, Spring and Fall.