The following article is taken from our 2021 Annual Report. Click here to view the full report.
Bradly D’Souza has had a lifelong interest in finance. He has served as unofficial bookkeeper for his family since he was a child. These days, as an engineer at Tesla, he still gets requests from friends looking for financial advice.
“They’ve seen my crazy spreadsheets,” he said with a laugh. “They know I’m a numbers guy at heart.”
He traced his interest in finance to his experience as a child, watching his parents – Harold and Dancy D’Souza – navigate the financial system in the United States after emigrating from India. He has a distinct memory of sitting through a financial literacy seminar in the second-floor conference room at Cincinnati Works, where his parents were Members.
Harold has a similar memory of the seminar, which took place more than a decade ago. The theme was shopping smarter, and the instructor used the example of buying a Coke from a vending machine every day versus buying in bulk and bringing a Coke to work every day, which would save thousands of dollars over the course of a career.
Not long after the event, the D’Souzas were enjoying a rare dinner at a restaurant, and Harold was surprised when Bradly ordered a water rather than his usual favorite, Dr. Pepper. “I asked him why and he said, ‘Dad, did you see those prices?’” Harold recalled.
The smart-shopping lesson stuck with Bradly. So, too, did this lesson:
“My dad is an amazing role model,” he said. “All I’ve known around me is a great work ethic and a deep interest in learning.”
The D’Souzas are remarkable Members in many ways, from their experience with human trafficking in their first year in the United States to Harold’s recent experience working with multiple U.S. Presidents to combat trafficking. Harold and Dancy both built successful careers in Greater Cincinnati after coming to Cincinnati Works, and they purchased a home where they raised two high-achieving sons: Bradly and his younger brother, Rohan.
In that way, the D’Souzas are remarkably representative of our Members: Their persistence and determination in building stable careers has provided their children with the resources necessary to pursue the American Dream.
“It might not have been the best of circumstances that brought us to Cincinnati Works,” Bradly said, “but it laid the foundation for how I see the world today. I have nothing but gratitude for the experience.”
Since Cincinnati Works opened its doors in April 1996, more than 8,000 people have become Members, and collectively they have earned more than $125 million in income from jobs they landed as Members.
When you add the increased income and sales tax those Members have paid, as well as their reduced use of social services, Cincinnati Works has generated more than $156 million in economic benefits to the region, a 375 percent return on investment.
That statistic is the most dramatic piece of evidence to come from a recent study by the University of Cincinnati Economics Center, a study commissioned by Cincinnati Works in 2020 and sponsored by Total Quality Logistics. The goal was to measure the impact Cincinnati Works has made through training, career coaching, and connections to local employers – three pillars of the organization since its first day.
Another way to measure Cincinnati Works impact is in the lives changed – whether through training, career coaching, and connections to local employers, or through more-recent initiatives like financial coaching and on-the-job coaching.
Lives like Khaleef and Ariel Israel, whose mom has been a Cincinnati Works Member since 1998. Khaleef recently purchased a car, thanks in part to a sterling credit rating – something his mom has preached since she learned the value of credit through a Cincinnati Works coach.
Like Bradly and Rohan D’Souza, whose parents have been Members since 2007. Bradly’s career with Tesla has already taken him to Chicago, San Francisco, and most recently Europe, and Rohan is an accomplished tennis player.
Like Emariono and Emmone Marshall, whose mom has been a Member since 2016. Emariono was recently named Student of the Month at Elder High School, and Emmone is thriving at Western Hills High School.
“I envision generational barriers being broken in my children’s future,” Ebony Marshall said. “I can see my son being a sports doctor, and I can see my daughter – who just loves to talk – being a counselor.
“My hope is they can understand life is about choice and most importantly your response to situations we are faced with. My goal is to empower them to live a life of well-thought-out responses and show them how to find the best choice.”
Ebony has rebuilt her nursing career and purchased her first home since being introduced to Cincinnati Works through the River City Correctional Institute. In addition to ongoing career and financial coaching, she utilized Cincinnati Works’ partnership with the Ohio Justice & Policy Center to have her record expunged. She was recently promoted to Director of Nursing at the Center for Chemical Addiction Treatment.
“She makes everything happen, no matter what,” her son, Emariono, said.
Not all Member successes are as dramatic as the D’Souzas and Marshalls. The path from poverty to self-sufficiency is rarely straight or smooth. Most Members suffer setbacks along the way.
With the right support, those setbacks can be learning experiences that reinforce the value of a good coach and a great attitude.
Lakeitha Taylor was pregnant with her son, Khaleef, when she became a Cincinnati Works Member more than 23 years ago. She was ashamed that her first marriage had fallen apart, and she credited her CW coach for talking her through the complicated emotions and logistics of a divorce.
“It was one of the pivotal points of my life,” Taylor said.
With more encouragement from her coach, Taylor earned multiple degrees and had a long career as a teacher and teacher’s aide. She also met the man who would become her second husband, and they are approaching their 17th wedding anniversary. They had a daughter, Ariel, together.
In recent years, the family had a conflict with a landlord and experienced homelessness for a brief period, then purchased their first home. Taylor switched careers to nursing because she felt a calling to help senior citizens, but she recently lost that job. While she considers her career options, her husband is working as an administrator at a local school, and both kids are thriving, Taylor said.
“My kids grew up with the concept of a family,” Taylor said. “There is no telling how our lives would be different if I hadn’t come through Cincinnati Works.”