A Worthy Investment

Dan Fleming is deeply involved with Cincinnati Works as a board member, program committee member, and multi-year major donor. He takes poverty personally and has written a guest blog post to share how …

In my venture capital career, I enjoy evaluating the business models of new companies and the quality of management teams. We get to put our money and efforts behind the “best of the best” to help them reach their potential. And one of the redeeming values of successful venture capital investing is economic development and job creation. I think of my involvement at Cincinnati Works in very much this same light. They have the most effective process and highest quality staff when it comes to preparing, placing and advancing the people in our community who can really benefit from the assistance. And although Cincinnati Works is a nonprofit organization, it is fulfilling a vital part of the capitalist mission by advancing our Members from poverty to economic self-sufficiency through employment.

There are several reasons why I am attracted to Cincinnati Works. First of all, I am an analytical type. I was an engineer with P&G out of undergrad, and a financial analyst out of business school. I believe that there is a right way to do things, although I’ve come to learn that many social processes are driven by a path of least resistance or political expediency. When I learned of the results Cincinnati Works was achieving relative to other job services programs, and I recognized the extreme ROI that results from job preparation, placement and advancement, my interest was certainly piqued. A recent study from the UC Economics Center found that it costs Cincinnati Works $4,650 to get a person into a career and provide mentorship and support to keep them there. The immediate and direct economic benefit is an average of $6,000, a return that continues to compound. Over the past 20 years Cincinnati Works has had a $35 million economic impact on the community through increased income, sales tax collections, and reduced use of public services.

However, the biggest reason for my initial involvement was an examination of my life’s purpose. It’s important to me to pursue a career that has meaning and is a benefit to others. I came to the conclusion that venture capital is a worthwhile pursuit, as our capital and assistance provides the most efficient route to new company formation and job creation. I appreciate the opportunity to work with the best and brightest entrepreneurs and business partners, but I also understand that trickle-down economics only goes so far. I sincerely believe that “there, but for the grace of God, go I” and “whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” So while my career pursuits result in economic advancement among the higher echelons of businesses, I see Cincinnati Works as a way to contribute to folks on the other end of society who have an outsized need.

I’ve taken a diversified approach to my efforts within Cincinnati Works. I’m able to contribute through my financial resources, through program activities and through board governance. But just as much, I enjoy working directly with the job seekers, through mock interviewing and coaching on interview approaches and skills. This connection makes my efforts more fulfilling. By providing organizational support and developing direct relationships, I am honored to assist in the process of moving fellow Cincinnatians from poverty to economic self-sufficiency. I take poverty personally.


Dan Fleming

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.