Phoenix Member Earl celebrates employment

Phoenix Member Earl celebrates employment

The Phoenix Program was developed in 2007 as a way to curb the violence found in the urban core of Cincinnati while addressing the cycle of generational poverty at the root of the issue. The program is tailored to individuals at high risk for involvement in group violence, offering an alternative to a life of crime and helping them advance to a life of economic self-sufficiency through legal employment. The goal is to empower individuals to establish new, positive patterns of behavior that lead them away from a life of criminal activity and toward a bright future. We chose the name Phoenix for this program because, just as the mythical bird rises from the ashes to begin a new life, Members can also rise from their lives of self-destruction to begin a new life.

The Phoenix Difference

  • Highly specialized staff with experience in recruiting, mentoring, and counseling men and women living in high-risk environments; a deep and personal understanding of “the life.”
  • Staff willing to commit to nearly 24/7, on-call involvement in the program. Calls come in around the clock. Staff need to respond to homicides, help families in need, and build relationships – all of which demand accessibility at all hours.
  • Offers genuine care and support. The people who come to the Phoenix Program often lack trust and stable role models in their lives, but they receive both when they walk through our doors. We provide a fresh start and a place where they are no longer defined by their past.
  • Members who are willing to participate in their own rescue. Participation in the Phoenix program isn’t forced or passive, and it’s never an easy decision. It’s a commitment to turn away from the people and situations that frequently lead to destructive behavior. This can mean separating from friends and even family members connected to group violence.
  • A support group for Members to connect and establish a supportive and encouraging community.
  • Strong community partners including law enforcement, parole officers, and other community resources that supplement our services and aid in recruitment. We also have relationships with food pantries, funeral homes, transportation companies, and other providers of assistance to help the families of homicide victims.
  • Employers who understand. Phoenix Members often have extensive criminal backgrounds. We have developed relationships with employers who are willing to hire those with a criminal record.

The majority of individuals that become a part of the Phoenix Program suffer from generational poverty. This poverty is cyclical by nature and continually encourages unethical behaviors. With a central focus on the most impoverished areas throughout the city, the Phoenix Program is finding high risk men and women and offering them opportunities to become productive citizens and inspiring them to be life-affirming role models for their children – breaking the cycle of poverty.

A recent study by University of Cincinnati Economics Center found that being a Cincinnati Works Member reduced the probability of felony indictment by almost 50 percent.

Cincinnati Works with Lincoln Ware

We’ve got celebrities among us at Cincinnati Works! Our CEO Peggy Zink and Phoenix Program Mentor Mitch Morris were live in living color this Sunday on STAR64 WSTR! They starred on the weekly segment of Cincinnati Issues with Lincoln Ware.

Want to learn more about Cincinnati Works? Click here to watch Peggy & Mitch’s moment in the spotlight!

Breaking the Cycle

Maria working with a CW Member in the job search area

I began my journey with Cincinnati Works September of 2016. Hanif was released from prison that same month. Hanif had been in prison longer than I have been alive. I met him as a quiet old man who had absolutely no idea how to work electronics. He insisted on pressing random buttons on his small phone, believing that that would eventually show him what he needed to see. Despite being away from all of this new technology for 30 years, he learned quickly. He was eager to learn and to get himself a job. It wasn’t long before he could log into his email all by himself. He did this almost every day for a month after graduating JumpStart.

You learn a lot about someone helping them out for a month. I noted Hanif had an almost serene demeanor. He did not seem to know the word worry. I learned that Hanif knew a little Arabic, because he would write words that I knew in the margins of his job search log. Things like “Insha’Allah” (If it is God’s will) showed me his hopefulness. I learned that Hanif is a veteran of the Vietnam War, the very same war my father was in. To say the least, Hanif was a great Member at Cincinnati Works.

Some short time before August 1973 Hanif met his father for the first time. He went to his home, knocked on the door, and was promptly spoken to through the screen door. Hanif’s father would not let his son in. He described it saying “It was like I was a dog.” August 1973 was his first felony, a robbery charge. Maybe there were other factors, but to him that was the event that set it all off. He said it all went downhill from there.

Hanif learned about God while in prison. He got certifications in HVAC, electrician work, janitorial services, and floor tech. Although we don’t know when his attitude changed, we know that it did. At some point, Hanif recognized his value and began to act upon it. A man who knows his own value knows the value of education in turn. He is worth more than what this world and our society may have told him he is. Hanif has been objectified, dehumanized and a victim of the generational cycle that leaves black men fatherless. More than any of that, Hanif has pulled himself up by the bootstraps. Hanif is not his father, nor is he the man before his father fighting for his own freedom, he is his own man.

Becoming part of our Phoenix Program here at Cincinnati Works, Hanif has broken the chain that could have led on and on for generations. Although he has made mistakes in his past, he has pushed to overcome them. He went through our JumpStart class, learning valuable skills to get and maintain a good job. He has learned money management, how to use a phone, and how to use a computer. He has gained a support system. Hanif earned employment with a manufacturing company, and recently went to get his driver’s license as well. I can tell you working here, because there are so many successes, I got very tired of ringing a cowbell every time someone got a job. But when Hanif got a job, I skipped my meeting that morning to come to Cincinnati Works and ring that bell for him.

The difference may be that I took the time to learn his story, and my joy for him was astounding. But now you know his story too, and you can ring your bell for any Member that shows the incredible things one person can do.

Maria Todd

We take poverty personally at Cincinnati Works. After more than 20 years in the fight, we know well its devastating effects on individuals, families, and the community as a whole. We also know that with the right resources and one-on-one coaching individuals can pull themselves and their families out of poverty. Everyday we witness how gainful employment and personal stability can restore the lives of adults and create tremendous opportunity for their children. 

In 2017, we will continue to share this firsthand perspective on poverty from our many and varied constituents including employer partners, board, staff, investors, and Members. Please continue to check our blog, social media pages (linked in top right corner), and newsletters to hear more from those on the front-line of poverty elimination at Cincinnati Works.

2015 Annual Report

annualreportcoverWe’re thrilled to announce that our 2015 Annual Report is now available to view and download online! 

Cincinnati Works does not accomplish its mission alone. Only through our strong relationships with our many partners are we able to successfully combat poverty in Cincinnati. Along with your support, this network of partners has enabled us to assist over 5,800 people in successfully finding and maintaining employment over the last 20 years.

In this year’s annual report, we highlight four of our closest partnerships. These partnerships have impacted countless lives by breaking links in the chain of generational poverty, and we have chosen the stories of several inspiring Members to illustrate how Cincinnati Works … Together!

Cincinnati Works assisted nearly 500 individuals in poverty to find and maintain employment in 2015. Generous support from our funders enabled us to expand our programs and reach more Cincinnatians wanting to work their way out of poverty. We …
  • Expanded our Phoenix Program to address the growing levels of gun violence in the community.
  • Increased recruiting and expanded capacity to serve more job seekers – almost 100 more people employed in 2015!
  • Redesigned the Advancement Program to better assist the working poor in reaching career goals and, ultimately, earning a living wage.
In 2016, our 20th anniversary year, we are continuing our focus on growth and expansion in order to impact more people. We will expand to new low-income neighborhoods, including a satellite office in Roselawn at the Summit Center. And we will launch new programs, including the Navigator Program to reach a younger, high-need population of at-risk teens.

Cincinnati Works has developed and honed an efficient and successful model in the fight against poverty, but we need even more resources to make our services available to even more people. Thank you for your loyal support of Cincinnati Works as we continue to work together to eliminate poverty.

Click here to read the full report


We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to our investors. Funds from individual, foundation, government, and corporate investors not only keep the lights on, but inspire new programming at Cincinnati Works.

Premier Investors

The Farmer Family Foundation Robert Gould Foundation Inc. The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation
David Herche JPMorgan Chase Foundation LISC of Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky
Louis & Louise Nippert Charitable Foundation Daniel & Susan Pfau Dave & Liane Phillips
The Trust Estate of George B. Riley Jacob G. Schmidlapp Trusts, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee David & Marcia Siebenburgen
United Way of Greater Cincinnati YOT Full Circle Foundation  

Platinum Investors

Anonymous (1) The Butler Foundation Cincinnati International Wine Festival, Inc.
Charles H. Dater Foundation Enerfab, Inc. Thomas L. & Nancy A. Gilman
Tom & Jan Hardy KeyBank Foundation Robert J. Kohlhepp Family Fund of GCF
Daniel Koppenhafer Macy’s Valerie Newell
Dan & Julia Poston Rick & Cindy Roeding SC Ministry Foundation
The Sutphin Family Foundation The Wyler Family Foundation  

Gold Investors

Accenture Amend Consulting Ameritas Life Insurance Co.
Anonymous (1) Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Inc. Business Information Solutions, Inc.
Donald & Becky Calvin Cincinnati Bar Foundation Ruth J. & Robert A. Conway Foundation
Dan & Susan Fleming Timothy & Sarah Fogarty Horseshoe Casino
Gary & Peggy Johns The Juilfs Foundation Leon Loewenstine
Miami Valley Gaming and Racing LLC Miller Valentine Group Perfetti Van Melle USA, Inc.
PNC Foundation Joseph A. & Susan E. Pichler Fundn of GCF Kevin & Janice Rice
Edwin F. & Marlene Robinson Family Fund of GCF Matt & Darcy Scherocman Scripps Howard Foundation
Robert C. Taylor Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America U.S. Bank Foundation
Wohlgemuth Herschede Foundation Peggy & John Zink  

Silver Investors

3M Foundation Ampac Packaging, LLC Anonymous (6)
John & Susan Berding Family Foundation James Biro Pinckney Brewer
Castellini Foundation Mark A. & Kathleen M. Cepela Cincinnati Friends of Charity Inc.
Meredythe and Clayton Daley, Jr. Family Fund Tom & Martha Depenbrock Andrew & Nita Douglas
Enterprise Holdings Foundation Gene & Patricia Ewing Craig Fanning
Kristin Farrell Jo Anne & Thomas Fiorini Michael & Suzette Fisher
Flatirons Community Church The Richard L. & Freda K. Flerlage Foundation Mary & Kent Friel
Harry F. Fry Patricia & Wilhelm Genn Gilman Partners
Dana Glasgo Douglas & D. J. Hammond Mike & Teri Haught
HDR Engineering, Inc. Jeffrey & Karen Hock Siri Hollander
David Hosea Ed and Joann Hubert Family Foundation, Inc. Johnson Investment Counsel
Gladys Wittmeyer Knox Foundation Ray & Darlene Kubik Peter F. and Mary W. Levin Philanthropic Fund
Robert & Jo Ann Loftus Madeira-Silverwood Presbyterian Church Gerron L. McKnight
Jodie Geiser & James Miller Matthew & Allison Mooney Ohio National Financial Services
Ohio Security Traders Association Richard & Joanie Paulsen Kellie & Dan Peters Fund
Terry & Phyllis Pfister Todd & Stephanie Phillips PNC Bank
The Portman Family Fund August A. Rendigs, Jr. Foundation Norma Skoog
Carol Steger Patrick & Beverly Stull Brian D. Till
Timberhill LTD Foundation Rose & George Vredeveld Mark & Lisa Weadick
John & Dawn Westheimer Virginia K. Weston Assistance Fund Mr. & Mrs. Mark Wilson

Bronze Investors

Lee & Richard N. Adams Mary Lu & Richard Aft Frank Albi
Ben Albright Allegra Marketing|Print|Mail Romola Allen
Amazon Smile Foundation Lori Anello Anonymous (3)
Daniel Armstrong Douglas & Robin Arthur Ascendum Solutions LLC
Paula Ayer Boubacar Badiane Todd H. & Ann Keller Bailey
Larry Baker Bryan Baldasare Bardes Fund – Ilsco
Eileen & John F. Barrett Christine Timmins Barry Marianne Beard
N. L. Beckman Jim & Melissa Benedict Bill & Jennie Berger
Debi Bertrams Ken & Dawn Bertsche Mike & Stephanie Besl
Susan & Doug Bierer James Biro Birthday Angels
Joseph Bischoff Clare Blankenmeyer Denny Bleh
Tom & Peggy Bley Molly Bohlen Linnea Bonacci
Kevin & Nancy Bove Jacob Bremanis Ann Brewer
Charlotte A. Brooks Janet Brothers Carolyn Brown
Kelly Brown Thane & Nancy Brown Frederick E. & Patricia A. Bryan, lll
Otto Budig, Jr. Robert W. Buechner Meredith Bullock
Mr. & Mrs. Stephen R. Burns Carl & Joyce Buschhaus Michael & Lissa Cambron
Krista Campbell David D. Carrier Eric Cepela
Chanticleer Consulting Cincinnati Art Galleries Andrew Clepper
Timothy & Karen Collins Community Shares Phil & Marjorie Compton
Leanne Conway Cornerstone Foundation Greg Cox
Brandon & Amy Cozzi William & Deborah Cron Zitiman Cross*
Erin Crowley Paul G. Crumrine Jeffrey Cryder
Leonard & Christie Culver Charles Curran III Gary & Marjorie Davies
Jeffrey Davis Kathleen DeLaura Dell Your Cause
Dawn Mericle Demis James Chappelle & Michael Dermott Kameron deVente
Betsey Dirr Helen Douglas Bradly D’Souza
Rohan D’Souza The D’Souza Family* Sarah Edelen
Jacqueline R. Edmerson Alan & Claire Eichner Eichner Investment Planning, LLC
John W. & Judith K. Eilers James & Esther Eiting Donna Engelhart
Jean G. Englehart David J. & Toni J. Eyrich Fifth Third Bank
Richard & Joan Finan Joseph & Christina Finke Sharlene & Jason Finkelstein
Chris & Vicki Fister Family Fund of GCF Ellen M. & Charles J. Florentino Thomas Flynn
Anthony & Sharla Forcellini John & Susan Frank Sheila Frank
James & Leisa Frooman Frost Brown Todd LLC Michael Gaburo
Judith Gates GBBN Architects, Inc. Paul F. & Teresa M. Gelter
Charles Gerhardt, III Mary Jo Lane & Tom Giordano Cynthia Givens
Anthony Glickhouse Joseph & Meghan Glynn Jeffrey I. & Laura L. Goldstein
Carol Goodman John & Denise Gormley Rick & Elaine Greiwe
James & Nancy Grimes David & Laura Groenke Brenda D. Gumbs
Don & Nancy Gurney David & Randol Haffner J. Matthew Hager
Aisla Hall* Jere & Lizann Hardy Jonathon Hardy
Greg & Kathleen Harmeyer Judith Harris* Beth Hart
Jim Scott & Donna Hartman John & Laura Hartung Art Hatcher
Glenn & Mary Kay Hauser Timothy Hecker Heimann Family Foundation
Thomas Heintz Paul & Deborah Heldman Jonathan Hembree
David & Deborah Horn Kevin Horton Howard Family Foundation
Roger & Joyce Howe Matthew Hug Kevin C. & Frances T. Hughes
Linda Humphries Maureen P. & John D. Hutchinson Susan Ikeler
Interlink Cloud Advisors, Inc. Kezia Israel Charisse M. Jeavons
Jovon Jones Michael Jones Mark Jordan
Robert & Christine Jung Reuven J. Katz Tom & Laura Keitel
Jane Keller Jana Kelly Latessa Marie Kershaw
George Kingston Larry & Kathleen Kissel Mike & Mary Kistner
Kiwanis Club of Fairfield I.H. & R.O. Kopf John Kraeutler
David Krafft David & Chris Krings Kroger Community Rewards
Richard B. Kuertz John Labmeier Kevan & Judith Langner
David & Linda Latham Robert & Carol Leshner Chris Linck
Gerry & Nancy Link Melissa Lueke & Scott Linstruth LPK Foundation
Norman Lobell Dino Lucarelli II Robert Luckey, Jr.
Rebecca Mapes-Evans Geoffrey Marshall Jonathan A. Mason
J. Stephen Massie Robert Matthews Sharon Mathis
Jeffrey & Tracy McClorey Rob & Janet McCray Fred & Liz McGavran
Carter McNabb Leslie & Redmond McNeill Meisel Family Foundation
Laura Menge Nicki J. Mercer Gary & Vickie Mertz
Jan & Marilyn Methlie John & Robbie Michelman James Miller & Deborah Rahal-Miller
John T. & Anita K. Mitchell Marguerite Monroe Albert Mooney
Andrew Mooney Christina Mooney I. M. Mooney
Nancy Mooney Cara Mosley Ross & Megan Mulder
Michael Murphy Deborah A. & Michael J. Murray Joseph R. Netzel
Mary Asbury & Robert Newman Doreen L. Noble Sandra & Randolph Nunn
William D. Oeters Jack and Marilyn Osborn Fund of GCF Roberta J. O’Shell
Christina Ostendorf Glenna M. & Heath E. Parks Sarah Parnello
Kimberly S. & Brett R. Passineau James & Denise Patton James & Carol Pearce
Dana Perrin John Perry The Phoenix Restaurant
Rebecca Gusweiler Poast Todd H. & Kelly C. Poellein Mary Porter
Nancy J. & Edward J. Potter, II Carol A. Pontis Bill & Mary Price
Nathan Prues Tolli Pugh Joseph & Linda Ratterman
Mary Pat Raupach Kathleen Reinmann David & Beverly Richards
Marsha Riggins Anthony Roberts Everly Rose
Dov Rosenberg George R. & Rita A. Ross Janet Lynn Ross
Marianne R. Rowe The Rowe Family Claudia Runkel
Mary Ann & Paul Russo Kimberly A. Satzger Mary Scheid
Jeremy Scheidt* Celia Schloemer Roger & Glenda Schorr
Nancy Schulhoff Wilbert Schwartz Janice Seymour
Erin L. Shaw JoVan Shaw Norm Shaw
Gale Sheldon Gary & Lois Siegle Joseph Siebenburgen
Beth Simminger John & Janet Simpkinson Joseph M. Sinnott
John & Mary Ellen Slauson Patrick M. Smith* Cathleen Snyder
Society of St. Vincent de Paul Floyd Allen Souder Donna Spillane
Richard & Pamela Squires John Steele, Sr. Tom & Patty Steele
Thomas E. & Jeanne M. Stilgenbauer John & Carolyn Stith Teresa Stone
Sr. Jeanne Marie Suerth Larry W. Sweeney Thomas Sweets
Bill & Amy Thamen Barbara Van Dillen Charles J. & Diane E. Vater
Gerald Von Deylen Vanessa Vreeland Karen Wachs
Thomas E. Wagner Tommy Wallace, Jr.* Cynthia Walp
Jan T. Walton William Watts Mark & Sue Weber
Cindy Weeden Karen Weese Josh Weitzman
Debbie & Dick Westheimer W. Michael White David Whittaker
Cheryl Meadows & Jerry Wilkerson Marcia Winborne Garen Wisner
Jim & Mary Beth Wojcik Myron D. (Trip) Wolf Joan Woodward
Betsy B. Worrall James D. Yunker Jean & Bill Zeck
Randi Ziegler James Zimmerman Kevin Zins

*Denotes Cincinnati Works Member