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2019 Employment Champions Breakfast Honorees

awardees in front of banner


Champion for the Unemployed Award

The Champion for the Unemployed Award is presented to an employer partner that demonstrates support for Skills by hiring the unemployed, providing pro bono and financial support, and serving as a corporate advocate.

Rush has been a model partner since 2013, deeply engaged and integrated with Skills to impact the lives of the unemployed and underemployed.

Rush and Skills have been partners since 2013 and over that time the partnership has grown from one placement to Rush hiring more than 280 individuals through Skills. Beyond hiring, Rush has been a fi nancial supporter of Skills and has had a representative on Skills’ Board of Directors since 2013. Rush has also regularly partnered with Skills on innovative solutions to better serve local job seekers, including piloting Skills’ Talent Sharing program and being an inaugural employer in Skills’ Pivot to Success program focused on career pathways for youth. Dr. Larry Goodman, former CEO of Rush, was also a speaker in Skills’ OnTopic series. Skills is honored to partner with Rush to better serve residents of Chicago’s West Side, and applauds Rush for their commitment to putting the unemployed and underemployed in Chicagoland back to work.

Advocate for the Unemployed

The Advocate for the Unemployed Award is presented to a community or non-corporate partner that collaborates with Skills to drive results, serving as both an advocate for the unemployed and a champion of Skills.

Chicago CRED has been a partner of Skills since 2017, and is a vital advocate for the unemployed and underemployed on Chicago’s South and West Sides.

Since 2017, CRED and Skills have partnered to deliver Skills’ Jobs 101 Curriculum focused on employment readiness and soft skill building for over 80 of CRED’s program participants, in addition to job placement services. CRED’s leadership and staff have shown the utmost commitment to this partnership by advocating for more organizations to utilize Skills’ services and programming. Skills is honored to partner with CRED and applauds their commitment to addressing gun violence by partnering with Skills to provide career readiness services and employment opportunities to individuals that could become perpetrators or victims of Chicago’s gun violence epidemic.

Fast Start Award

The Fast Start Award is presented to an employer partner whose new partnership with Skills has made an immediate and significant impact on both Skills and those that Skills serves.

McDonald’s Corporation has exponentially expanded their partnership with Skills over the past year and has become a vital hiring partner and supporter of Skills’ mission.

McDonald’s Corporation and its independent franchisees has been a key supporter of Skills’ Pivot to Success youth career pathway program, both by providing significant financial support with a $1 million grant as well as developing a new apprenticeship program with City Colleges of Chicago, hiring 26 youth in the pilot program to date. In addition, Skills has been honored to be a recipient of McDonald’s generous support through their Youth Opportunity Initiative via The International Youth Foundation. These grants, totaling over $350,000, have enabled Skills to reach over 1,600 Opportunity Youth throughout the Chicagoland area, providing them with the essential skills and support needed to access employment opportunities and succeed. Overall, Skills has placed over 100 individuals into jobs with McDonald’s since the start of 2018. Skills is honored to partner with McDonald’s and applauds their global commitment and local focus on providing employment opportunities, tuition assistance, and career pathways for both adults and youth.


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