A workforce development approach that focuses on character and skills
The life skills that I learned at Cara taught me how to believe in myself and know the deepest truth of who I am.
– Cathy Robinson-Yates

Homeless and chronically unemployed individuals face monumental setbacks to finding steady employment. More than resume help and job searching skills, they need long-term support to navigate the obstacles in finding and retaining a job. They need encouragement and hope for a brighter future.

The solution

Cara is a workforce development program that provides hope, opportunity, and community to those who need it most. They seek to train, prepare, and inspire motivated individuals to break the cycle of homelessness, transform their lives, strengthen their communities, and forge paths to real, lasting success. Through life and career skills training, Cara helps students address the root causes of their predicaments and prepare for the realities of the workplace. Because securing a job is only the beginning to finding real success, Cara focuses on job retention and stability. Cara seeks to help their students build a solid foundation for their future with self-knowledge, inner strength, and practical skills.

The story

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Tom Owens harnessed his drive to empower adults affected by homelessness and poverty by establishing Cara in 1991. Launching the program out of his car, Tom grew Cara into a first-rate workforce training program that has helped over 5,300 graduates find permanent work.

June is only one of many countless inspirational stories of success. With a history of substance abuse and overdosing, June came to Cara sober but troubled by years of pain, abuse, and addiction. June addressed profound emotional challenges through therapy, gained valuable life and job skills through training, and found self-confidence to contribute value to her family, workplace, and society. With permanent employment, newfound self-esteem, and a clear path to success, June has turned her life around through her commitment to Cara.

Stand Together Foundation Partnership

Cara is a 2016 Stand Together Foundation Catalyst. Through participation in the Catalyst Program, Cara receives training from industry experts in organizational development, branding, measurement and growth, and strategic relationships to amplify their impact and strategically expand their reach.

Chicago, Illinois
est. 1991
Maria Kim
President and CEO
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Maria Kim has been a member of the Cara team for 11 years. Maria spent 14 years in the insurance industry learning fundamental leadership and management skills. After 9/11, she asked herself, “What am I doing? How am I living my life? What is my story?” Those questions led Maria to Cara in 2005 in a communications and development capacity. She worked her way to her current position of CEO and president. While Maria has always thrived by serving others, it wasn’t until coming to Cara that service became the front seat of her career and life’s work.
Success Metrics
Jobs secured by 6,500+ Cara participants since 1991
Job retention rate for permanent placements
Permanent and transitional jobs created each year
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