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.
Their mission is to break the cycle of generational poverty by helping people living in challenging situations re-establish hope, get connected with needed resources and implement a plan to reach economic independence.
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.
Interagency collaboration has been key to the program’s success. By having multiple partners involved, the team has been 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.
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 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%).