Connections to Success

Originally founded in 1998 as Dress for Success Midwest, Connections to Success is a nonprofit organization serving Kansas, Missouri and Illinois that empowers individuals in their transformation to economic stability. As an OFA Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education grantee, CTS provides workforce training, life coaching, relationship education, and intergenerational support to low-resourced individuals and families.

Record Type: 
Innovative Programs
September 2018
Partner Resources
Type of Agency: 
Community-Based Organization
Program Location: 
St. Charles (Headquarters), Missouri
Type of Organization Coordinating/Operating the Program: 
Non-Profit Organization
Funding Sources: 
State, Federal, Private
Clientele/Population Served: 
Low-income individuals and families transitioning from generational poverty, incarceration, domestic violence and other challenging and disadvantaged situations
Programs/Services Offered: 

Connections to Success (CTS) uses a holistic, evidence-based model to help individuals and families gain social capital and achieve economic independence. The organization’s approach is intergenerational, focused on improving outcomes for both parents and their children through programming and collaborations with other service providers. CTS’s model integrates training opportunities, life transformation coaching, support services and job development to equip participants for long-term success. CTS offers ongoing support to foster continued growth and career advancement. Through its holistic Pathways to Success model, CTS targets families impacted by generational poverty, incarceration, and unemployment. The model includes a Personal and Professional Development workforce training and focuses on healthy relationships, parenting, employment services, life coaching, education and skills training, volunteer engagement, and mentoring.

In 2016-2017, CTS participated in OFA’s Two-Generation Strategies Community of Learning. Since then, the organization has focused on expanding intergenerational impact. CTS has done this is through the development of an interagency partnership with the Missouri Department of Corrections, the Missouri Workforce Development Board, the Missouri Department of Social Services (Child Support), and the Missouri Department of Economic Development to implement a Reentry Pilot. At the core of the pilot is CTS’s Personal and Professional Development class, which is facilitated inside a men's prison. In total, 14 men participated in the pilot program, impacting the lives of 64 children. With its partners, CTS facilitated the course and offered supports, career planning, and case management to the participants. CTS CEO Kathy Lambert stated, “During the 10-day training, the men totally transformed… they now have hope and plans for a different life for themselves and their children.” Interagency collaboration was key to the pilot’s success. By having multiple partners involved, the team was able to help remove barriers many individuals coming out of prison face. For example, the team helped enroll the men in SNAP, secure housing, and meet with Child Support and Probation and Parole. Additionally, employers participated in mock interviews and representatives from an apprenticeship program shared opportunities. CTS also provided new suits to each of the men, and many received job offers.

Evaluation Results: 

CTS focuses on intergenerational impact to ensure outcomes extend beyond the immediate future and empower the next generation. Of CTS program graduates, 74% become employed and 70% retain employment at nine months following initial employment. Additionally, 82% of those employed received an earnings increase within six months of employment. CTS participants involved in the organization’s reentry programs have experienced a 14% recidivism in 12 months after release from incarceration, and for those who also participated in their mentoring program, the recidivism rate is only 8% (compared to the national average of 44%). Evaluation results from the Reentry Pilot program described above are not yet available.

  • Employment
    • Assessment
    • Job Readiness
    • Mentoring
  • Supportive Services
    • Post-employment Supports
  • Special Populations
    • Homeless Families
    • Incarcerated and Individuals with a Criminal Record