Redefining Workforce Development in Northeast Ohio

Nov 1, 2016 | Research

How National WorkAdvance Demonstration Made Local Impact


As part of our work to prepare adult residents for current and future jobs, our Fund is proud to have supported the WorkAdvance demonstration in Northeast Ohio. The national, five-year pilot demonstrated an ability to deliver workforce services more effectively for low-income individuals and connect employers to talent they need.

WorkAdvance was designed by MDRC, a national social policy research firm, in partner­ship with the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO). The pilot had test sites in New York and Tulsa, Oklahoma, in addition to Northeast Ohio, and was supported by the White House Social Innovation Fund and local partners. Cleveland-based nonprofit Towards Employment coordinated the effort locally. The Northeast Ohio pilot focused on the health care and manufacturing sectors in Cuyahoga County and the Mahoning Valley.

In November 2016, the Fund, Deaconess Foundation, The Raymond John Wean Foundation, and Towards Employment released a report detailing local findings. This report builds off an analysis released by MDRC in August 2016, Encouraging Evidence on a Sector-Focused Advancement Strategy, that includes results for all test sites.

Local Findings

In Northeast Ohio, the pilot demonstrated that when individuals had access to a full complement of aligned services, their earnings were 14 percent higher after two years than counterparts in a control group.

The better news?

Dollars for services delivered through WorkAdvance were used more efficiently, with participants nearly four times as likely to enter into technical training and more than four times as likely to complete training as those with access to the current system. The cost per participant through WorkAdvance ($5,200 to $6,700) was comparable to the cost of current service delivery.

The difference?

A connection to the right, comprehensive services at the right time that were informed by in-demand jobs in growing sectors, with a focus on advancement, not just job placement. Already, learnings from this demonstration are being adopted around the region. The Fund and its members are keen to continue building on these lessons.