Cara Chicago

Listing Details


  • What sets the organization apart:

    Cara’s full year of intensive retention support after an individual becomes employed is unique to our service delivery model. Once a participant is employed in a permanent or long-term job, they are assigned to an Individual Development Specialist (IDS), who they meet with monthly to ensure their basic needs are still being met, such as childcare and housing. They also work together to track progress toward goals the participant may have set, like purchasing a car, enrolling in a vocational program, or renting an apartment. IDS’ also stay in close contact with employers to ensure any conflicts that may arise on the job do not derail participants’ success. More broadly, the challenge of poverty alleviation and unemployment is left unmet because providers lack deep private sector engagement. To address this, Cara takes a customer service approach in building our employment partner network. This involves identifying job opportunities that are likely to fulfill participants’ potential for lasting success while also centering our employers’ needs, affirming the value of inclusive employment; not only as a gesture of goodwill, but good business strategy, as well.

  • Mission Statement

    Cara unlocks the power and purpose within our communities and ourselves to achieve real and lasting success. Our vision is to fuel a courageous national movement to eradicate relational and financial poverty.

  • Execution summary of the impact of the organization’s work in 2019

    In 2019, Cara reached the milestone of 10,000 jobs created since 1991. In 2019 alone, 950 jobs were created/secured, and 78% of participants who reached one year on the job obtained permanent housing. Of those 950 jobs, 271 were permanent placements earning an average of $13.48 per hour and 679 were transitional jobs created through our businesses, Cleanslate and Cara Connects. Cara also saw a same-firm, one-year retention rate of 71% for permanent placements in 2019. On a macro-level, Cara maintained a nearly 6:1 social return on investment – where for every $1 invested in our mission, Cara returns $5.97 to society through reduced recidivism, reduced dependency on public assistance programs and emergency healthcare, taxable contributions, social security investments, economic self-sufficiency, stabilized homes, and revitalized communities. Lastly, Cara became a Great Place to Work-Certified™ company in March 2019, and Charity Navigator, the largest charity evaluator in America, also awarded Cara a four-star rating – their highest – in June

  • Established/Founding Date

    February 1, 1991

  • Organization’s History

    Since 1991, Cara has helped people affected by poverty (and often the challenges of recovery, domestic violence, episodic homelessness, and incarceration) to get and keep quality jobs and, more importantly, rebuild hope, self-esteem and opportunity for themselves and their families in the process. We produce hundreds of jobs each year, at one-year, same-firm retention rates over 20 points higher than national norms and with over 70% of those retained residing in permanent housing in which their families can thrive. Our results don’t just end with employment. We also maintain market-competitive businesses that create gateway jobs for those they serve and we produce a profound social return on investment, where for every dollar invested in this work, $5.97 is re-invested in society over a five-year time horizon. The work is important, not only because of its clear goal of bringing individuals in need back to the dignity and productivity of employment, but because of its clear mission to transform people’s lives. Families become stronger, relationships are healed, and communities become more vibrant because nothing gives you a positive outlook on life like a job.

  • CEO/Executive Director

    Maria Kim

  • Size of Organization’s Staff


  • Diversity of Staff

    Less than 50%

  • Current Operating Budget


  • Education Level of Primary Target Population

    No HS Diploma, High School Diploma/GED, Some College, No Degree, College Grad


Contact Information

  • Address
    237, South Desplaines Street, Greektown, Near West Side, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, 60661, United States of America
  • Phone
  • Website
  • Zip/Post Code

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