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Social Innovator Award Winner: Cara

Winner in: 2015

The Cara Program (Cara) is a workforce and leadership development boot camp serving motivated adults affected by poverty in Chicago. Founded in 1991 by Chicago entrepreneur and philanthropist, Tom Owens, Cara provides comprehensive life- and career-skills training, transitional employment through its social enterprises (businesses), permanent job placement, employment retention support, and career advancement services to 800 Chicagoans in need each year. TCP Staffing, one of Cara’s social enterprises, was created in 2013 to respond to the labor market’s shift away from full-time, permanent hires for entry-level positions, and toward temporary staffing for open positions. TCP Staffing aims to connect Cara “students” (program participants, all working-age adults) to these temporary or part-time opportunities so that they may gain valuable work experience, while quickly resolving employment gaps in the process. Companies have the opportunity to source quality, temporary employees, and Cara builds direct connections to employers while generating revenue. Therein lies the innovation. We call it “hiring the very best people for the very best reason.” Cara continues to work with students on assignment through TCP Staffing to provide wraparound services and to ultimately secure for them a permanent, quality jobs, with which they can help lift their families out of poverty, for good.