Working for economic justice

A few times every year you receive emails, calls and texts from us urging you to attend or spread the word about Step Up to UH. It’s an employment program to connect residents of Cleveland and East Cleveland with entry-level jobs at University Hospitals, one of our state’s largest employers. We’re not in the employment business, we’re about connecting people and building power to make change in our neighborhoods. So why are we so excited about Step Up to UH?

The answer is simple: Step Up is economic justice.

Economic justice is a element of social justice. The ultimate goal is for each person to be able to live a dignified, productive, and creative life.

The idea of economic justice kept coming up in conversations at Neighbor Up Nights in recent years, and people were frustrated. Large hospital systems and other institutions in our city were investing millions of dollars in buildings and expansion, but local neighborhood residents couldn’t get hired for entry-level jobs there – jobs with health benefits and the opportunity to advance, jobs that could help a person build a career and wealth for themselves and their family, jobs that could lift someone out of poverty.

A group of about 15 Neighbor Up members set out to make change, to create an on-ramp to help themselves and their neighbors get jobs within those doors. They connected with people working at institutions and nonprofits who were brave enough to take on the work and create something new. They found folks at Towards Employment, a nonprofit that helps people find jobs, and University Hospitals. University Hospitals had high turnover in entry-level positions and people there were interested in working on the project to see if they could lower that rate.

The group studied examples of neighborhood jobs pipelines in other cities and then created an easy on-ramp for neighborhood residents looking for entry-level work. The end result? The launch of Step Up to UH. The entry-level jobs offer: health benefits; ongoing employee support; a living wage; and room to advance and build a career at the hospital.

So far more than 175 people have been hired through Step Up and almost 80% stay in the job for a year allowing them to move up at the hospital system into high-paying positions.

And that’s why we get excited about Step Up to UH.

It shows that residents and local institutions can work together to make change when brought together in a well-designed space that values all voices and helps to build trust. And that’s what our work is all about: relationships, trust, justice. Neighbor Up!

If you’re looking to launch a career in healthcare, click here for details about upcoming Step Up to UH information sessions.

Hear from Amanda Harris, a Step Up to UH graduate, in 
this episode of  the podcast "Neighbor Up Spotlight."