CIRCLES Welfare to Work Collaborative
As Neighborhood Economic Development Director of EBALDC, I coordinated a community planning process focused on the challenge of welfare to work. The process involved all of the 35 social service agencies and immigrant associations serving the neighborhoods in identifying collaborative solutions.
The planning process led to the formation of the CIRCLES collaborative, through which 12 organizations coordinated a comprehensive set of services ranging from English as a second language classes, work readiness counseling, transportation assistance, work experience job placements and ultimately job referrals. The program model involved several small immigrant service associations as direct case managers and language specialists but built a common infrastructure of relationships with larger institutions such as the local community college, employers and transportation support organizations. Collaboration allowed the smaller organizations to build on their relationships in the ethnic communities while benefiting from the resources and access to jobs that larger institutions could provide. I facilitated collaborative meetings and coordinated the preparation of funding applications that successfully secured over $2.5 million from 9 different sources to support the initial pilot program.