Economic Mobility

Increasing access to family-sustaining wages through educational and
workforce pathways

What we believe

Intergenerational economic mobility – the likelihood that children born into families with low wealth can achieve a higher standard of living – is often hampered by high poverty rates, shrinking populations, and declining economic standing. The Economic Mobility strategy is about making sure kids start kindergarten ready to learn, paving career pathways to family-sustaining wages, and convening community around solving structural barriers to mobility.


As of 2020, there were more nearly 67,000 children living in poverty in Cuyahoga County.

  • By 2023, United Way will help 40% of Greater Cleveland’s impoverished children by connecting them with academic supports, engaging their whole families in enrichment, and building parenting skills.

As of 2020, 30% of working-age adults in Cleveland and 121,588 in Cuyahoga County were in poverty.

  • United Way will connect 16,000 working-age adults with the services they need to get and retain jobs that pay a living wage.

Funding Priorities

  • Kindergarten readiness
  • Early childhood education: promoting cognitive, language, literacy, and social-emotional development
  • Whole family (2Gen) supportive services
  • Connecting youth and adults with career pathways
  • Removing barriers to work
  • Providing benefits cliff relief
  • Promoting wealth building for low-income people

Community Hub for Basic Needs Partners

In March 2021, United Way announced a new source of funding for innovative programs from diverse social service agencies: The Community Hub for Basic Needs grants.

A seven-month process of applications, interviews, and input from stakeholders ensures that the grants will fuel innovative programs to combat poverty initiatives that are aligned with United Way’s community strategies. In the same way, United Way is assured that we are partnering with forward-thinking nonprofits that are aligned with our investment principles. community investments with a focus on identifying and selecting diverse, innovative agencies and programs.

Each grant is renewable in the calendar year 2023, pending review of metrics reports, participation in the Center for Excellence in Social Services, and the performance of United Way’s Annual Workplace Campaign.

The inaugural Community Hub for Basic Needs grant recipients for Economic Mobility are:

Lexington-Bell Community Center
Helps parents, family members, and home‐based caregivers provide quality learning experiences for children from their earliest days.
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Ravenwood Health
Empowers individuals and families through mental health and addiction services.
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Spanish American Committee
Provides hands-on workforce development training and certification assistance to the Latino/Hispanic community.
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Starting Point
Gives educators the resources they need to prepare kids for kindergarten.
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Towards Employment
Helps people build skills and experience to connect to family-sustaining careers.
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Youth Opportunities Unlimited
Helps high school students navigate their career journeys.
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YWCA of Cleveland
Provides assistance for families and children under five who were disproportionately impacted by homelessness.
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Impact Institute Programs


FamilySpace locations are neighborhood-based hubs of programming, information sharing, and network building for families with young children. 

Louise C. Stokes Scholar House

Scholar House removes barriers to economic opportunity by providing housing and wrap-around services for single college students and their children.

Social Determinants of Work

The Social Determinants of Work Initiative will bring the Greater Cleveland community together to strategically advance mitigation of barriers faced by workers, employer practices that lead to good jobs, and policy changes that fix systemic barriers.

Workforce Connect

Workforce Connect aims to improve economic mobility and reduce racial disparities in economic outcomes in Cuyahoga County.

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