State funds will help the Greater Stark County Urban League fund a program to guide low-income, underemployed workers to better positions.
CANTON Several local agencies, led by the Greater Stark County Urban League, will partner in a workforce development program aimed at addressing poverty and unemployment.
The Urban League will receive a $389,000 grant, spread over the next two years, to hire three “employment navigators,” who will recruit job candidates and monitor their progress. Candidates will receive assistance in different areas to help them be successful employees.
Kim Hall, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Ohio Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) and Diane Robinson, Urban League president and chief executive officer, led a host of local and state officials who announced the program during a virtual meeting on Tuesday.
“This is a case management program that we believe in and we know it works,” Hall said.
She explained that navigators will provide support for job candidates and help them find the tools and skills they will need. Once a job candidate is placed, the navigator will help ensure clients stay in the program.
Robinson said the program will strive to promote self efficiency and help bring people out of poverty to jobs that pay living wages. “We want to enable African Americans and other to reach full parity,” she said.
The Urban League hopes to serve 125 participants during the program’s first year and 156 people during the second year. The program is designed to help low-income, low-skilled individuals who are unemployed or underemployed.
It’s hoped that the navigators will create a plan focused on each individual client.
West said he and Robinson approached Hall about the program earlier this year. “It was almost like we all had the same idea,” West said.
Jennifer Meek Eells, executive director for OhioMeansJobs offices in Stark and Tuscarawas counties, said the program will help connect new candidates to the region’s different workforce training programs.
In addition to OhioMeansJobs, other participating organizations include United Way of Greater Stark County, R.G. Drage Career Technical Center, Stark State College and several others, West said. Strengthening Stark and Stark Economic Development Board also are supporting the program.
West said he hopes Tuesday’s announcement marks the beginning for the program and that more navigators can be added.
“Three navigators are not enough to address the poverty, unemployment and underemployment,” he said.
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