Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry and Towards Employment Launching an Alternative Staffing Organization

Posted on

Mary Louise Madigan: (216) 698-2521;
Katrice Williams: (216) 698-2326;

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH - The Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry and Towards Employment are partnering to launch an Alternative Staffing Organization (ASO). Alternative staffing is an employment strategy that combines a staffing business model with supportive services to help job seekers with obstacles to employment enter and advance in the workforce. About 70 ASOs operate in the US and Canada. In 2016, the sector employed an estimated 43,000 job seekers.

Cleveland’s ASO model is being funded through a Second Chance Act Department of Justice grant provided to the Office of Reentry in June 2018. In May 2019, proposals were requested for enterprises that could create sustainable economic opportunities for citizens returning to their communities after incarceration. The Office of Reentry specified that proposals go beyond traditional job training and placement strategies and provide tested and proven strategies that have specifically shown success in getting people with involvement in the criminal justice system into work with family sustaining wages and opportunity for advancement.

Towards Employment’s proposal to create an Alternative Staffing agency was chosen because it leverages temporary placements to help job seekers build skills and confidence, adjust to the demands of the workplace, and establish behaviors that will give them an edge in the labor market. Towards Employment’s unique experience with placing individuals with criminal backgrounds supports both the job trainee and the employer.

While this award was made in early 2020, all planning for the launch has happened during this global pandemic. An environment where the unemployment rate has moved from 2% unemployment rate to over 20% and back to 6.8% in November, underscores the need for a staffing agency that can respond to the impact of a changing labor market.

“Providing workers with pre- and post-placement supports is a key factor distinguishing ASOs from conventional staffing suppliers and a compelling part of their value proposition to employers,” says Crystal Bryant, Director of the Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry. “This model will help individuals with a medium-to-high risk of returning to prison within three years of release. The ASO model is different from other staffing agencies because it tailors services to meet the challenges of placing individuals with criminal backgrounds and training them if their criminal history has prevented them from gaining the job skills necessary to compete in the current job market.”

Jill Rizika, Executive Director of Towards Employment, is excited about this new venture. “We look forward to working with the strong network of Cuyahoga County organizations serving people with criminal justice involvement who are seeking employment, and offering this innovative bridge to job opportunities that offer a pathway to economic success during and post COVID.”

Director of Achieve Staffing, Leronza Campbell III, has already leveraged his prior background--managing the daily operation of an accredited Healthcare Staffing Organization with oversight of scheduling, recruiting, business development and marketing --to place the first Achieve candidates with local companies. “We call our candidates Achievers – it refers to our name and speaks to our promise. We provide on the job coaching and support to every person hired from Achieve Staffing – to make sure they can achieve results – for themselves and for the companies that hire from us.”

This pilot project provides seed funding for three years to help the social enterprise build a foundation for sustainability, with a formal launch date in January 2021. The staffing agency will serve at least 420 job seekers with prior criminal justice involvement. For more information on launch dates and to connect to Achieve, visit

The Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry is a funder for direct services provided to returning citizens and a coordinating agency for reentry resources and services across the county. As a coordinating agency, the office is as a convener and a collaborator with other program providers and public and private entities working with returning citizens. For more information visit

Towards Employment, founded in 1975, is a Cleveland nonprofit with a mission to empower individuals to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through employment. As a proven leader in workforce development, Towards Employment connects people to careers, which in turn changes people’s lives, advances businesses, and strengthens community in Northeast Ohio. Because of this history and mission, Towards Employment has an extensive recruitment network that operates through relationships with dozens of service-providing agencies and extends into all of Cuyahoga County’s neighborhoods.