JVS Career Services: Jewish Foundation Investment Enables Agency to Expand Efforts

Categories: News

Mike Boberg

By Mike Boberg, Senior Grants Officer, Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati

Over the past two years, The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati has made a significant investment in JVS Career Services to change the landscape for jobseekers, college internships, and employers, both in and outside the Cincinnati Jewish community. This unprecedented investment has allowed the organization to be able to focus on strengthening our Jewish community through its employee recruitment and retention efforts.

Recently, The Jewish Foundation approved an additional $800,500 to support a second level of JVS Career Service’s business development. The new funding has been used to hire an additional career consultant to support job seekers and a recruiter to support the hiring needs of Jewish communal agencies and Cincinnati employers, and to showcase Cincinnati career opportunities to Jewish community members living in other cities. The funding will also be used to implement new technology that will allow JVS Career Services to quickly search and identify job seekers whose skills match qualifications for open positions, and to track workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions.

Jewish Vocational Service, as it was originally known, formed in 1940 to provide Jewish refugees and other members of the Jewish community with vocational guidance and job placement while combating religious workplace discrimination. As it evolved and grew throughout the twentieth century, it began to expand and serve individuals with developmental disabilities. In July of 2012, the programs provided to individuals with disabilities merged with Easter Seals Work Resource Center to form Easter Seals Tristate. During this combination, JVS Career Services emerged as an independent agency continuing as before to serve typical job seekers without regard to religious affiliation or belief.

In response to the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati’s focus on Cincinnati 2020, it became apparent that JVS Career Services should take the lead towards creating a community with reduced Jewish unemployment and more individuals who find employment with the assistance of Jewish connections. JVS Career Services determined that to serve as the lead agency in the employment field, it needed to increase its size to expand and enhance the services it offered. That’s when the agency approached The Jewish Foundation and the Jewish Federation to develop a capacity building plan for delivering on that new mandate.

With two separate grants (the first in 2014 and the second recently approved by The Foundation’s Board), JVS Career Services has been able to add staff, refocus its efforts, and has already had a positive impact on the Jewish community.

Some of the highlights of the JVS Career Services Initiative include:

  •  The hiring of new CEO, Joni Burton, who brings decades of experience in recruiting, staffing and talent management. Prior to heading up JVS Career Services, Ms. Burton served as CEO of ERB Solutions, a permanent placement and staffing company that assisted organizations in recruiting top-notch talent.
  • A collaboration with Cincinnati Hillel and Hillel at Miami University for the creation of Careers Cincinnati, focusing on better connecting Jewish college students with internships
  • A collaboration with Jewish Family Services on a Counselor position that serves both organizations
  • Additional positions covered in part by the grants include:
    • A Managing Director for Career Services
    • Two career consultants
    • A professional business developer
    • A professional recruiter
    • A marketing team

Since implementation of the first grant, JVS Career Services saw monthly job starts steadily increase. During the period of January through December 2015, JVS Career Services clients had 228 job starts, with 71 % of the newly employed clients identifying themselves as Jewish. The economic impact of those 228 jobs, based on the total reported annualized salaries, was roughly $11.7MM. While job starts vary from month to month, JVS Career Services expects to see a continuing upward trend in the number of job starts.

The collaboration with the two Hillels has also yielded very positive outcomes thus far. In 2015, more than 50 students were engaged with the program, which is designed to help Jewish students identify and secure internships. The program has connected with more than 30 employers, 17 of which expressed an interest in hiring a Careers Cincinnati intern. JVS Career Services has been working with Careers Cincinnati applicants on refining their resumes and interview skills, as well as connecting Careers Cincinnati to potential employers. In addition, JVS Career Services provided Hillel students with job search packets so that they present themselves professionally at their internships and jobs.

“We are very grateful for the continued support of The Jewish Foundation,” said JVS Career Services CEO, Joni Burton. “The Foundation’s commitment to help transform JVS into what I believe could become the entire region’s ‘go-to’ job placement and referral organization has already allowed us to have a huge impact on the local Jewish community. We’re excited to continue working towards the community’s 2020 goals through all of our efforts.”

“The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati remains committed to supporting JVS Career Services’ efforts to build a better Jewish Cincinnati by strengthening its workforce and ensuring all Jewish community members have meaningful employment,” said Jewish Foundation President Beth Guttman. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with JVS Career Services and the Federation to ensure the ongoing success of these efforts.”

Mike Boberg, Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati Senior Grants Officer, has more than 15 years experience in strengthening the local arts community in a variety of roles including at ArtsWave, where he managed their Projects Grants program and ran the BOARDway Bound leadership initiative. Mike has served on grants review panels for a variety of funders throughout the tristate, including Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (Cleveland), LexArts (Lexington), CultureWorks (Dayton), the Ohio Arts Council (Columbus) and the Kentucky Arts Council (Frankfort). He has also presented on a variety of topics at numerous local and national conferences, including Americans for the Arts. His role at the Jewish Foundation includes working directly with a number of its grantees, from request inception through the final reporting phase of the grant making process.