Increasing Capacity to Help More Black and Brown Job Seekers Get Hired

CBO Collective Tapped by OneTen to Address Job Opportunity Gap

Led by New Executive Director Cleophus Lee, Chicago’s Community Based Organization Collective Tapped by OneTen to Address Job Opportunity Gap Among Black & Brown Job Seekers on South & West Sides


Chicago - A self-convened group of 16 Chicago-area workforce development organizations working together as the Community Based Organization Collective (CBO Collective) today announced a contract with the national organization OneTen to activate the Chicago market as a part of their national goal of hiring, promoting, and advancing one million Black individuals into family-sustaining careers over the next 10 years.

The CBO Collective was founded in 2019 on the premise that employers must diversify their hiring pipeline and need trusted, committed partners who provide guidance and support to reach talented workers who have been traditionally overlooked. Similar to OneTen, the CBO Collective’s mission is to provide employers with a central means of accessing local skilled talent that is otherwise prepared to keep employers competitive but has historically been marginalized, underserved, or presents with surmountable barriers to securing quality employment opportunities.

 “We’re thrilled to team up with the CBO Collective to scale and align the jobs ecosystem to better meet the demand for Black talent without a four-year degree across Chicago,” said Maurice Jones, CEO of OneTen. “The CBO Collective and OneTen share a common goal to create systemic change by closing the racial wealth gap in America. We strongly believe that when you eliminate barriers to advancement for one group, you help lift everyone.”

 The CBO Collective is led by Karina Ayala-Bermejo of Instituto del Progreso Latino, Marie Trzupek Lynch of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, and Karen Freeman-Wilson of the Chicago Urban League. It was formed to create one umbrella organization to better serve Chicago’s Black and Brown job seekers and increase funding potential among donors.

 The CBO Collective recently hired its new and first ever Executive Director Cleophus Lee. With 25 years of experience in program design, development and implementation working in nonprofit organizations with 17 years in leadership and management, Lee is the CBO Collective’s first executive director since the collective was formed and will lead the organization in its next phase of growth as its work reaches more job seekers.

 Other CBO Collective members include Cara Chicago, Central States SER, Heartland Alliance, Jane Addams Resource Corp., Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago, Metropolitan Family Services, North Lawndale Employment Network, Phalanx Family Services, Safer Foundation, Thrive Chicago, UCAN, West Side Forward, and the YWCA of Metro Chicago.

 “We are incredibly grateful for the support and commitment from OneTen and its vision to put more Black job seekers into good jobs with competitive wages across Chicago,” Lee said. “The CBO Collective is a tremendous resource to help companies across Chicago do better to reach talented workers who have been overlooked for far too long.”

 CBO Collective members provide an array of services to over 500,000 individuals annually and work with 260 companies to hire local talent, leading to more than 11,000 job placements. Through expanded shared programming efforts, the CBO Collective plans to place 240 local unemployed residents into jobs in 2022.

 “We have joined together as organizations to unify our workforce efforts in Chicago to create a more equitable system for hiring individuals from south and west side neighborhoods,” said Karen Freeman-Wilson, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League and chair of the CBO Collective. “We are already realizing our vision of helping people gain better jobs and improve their career paths. With partners like OneTen and the addition of a new executive director, we can make a tremendous impact to fill the job opportunity gap that has long existed for Chicago residents on the south and west sides.”

 The CBO Collective is supported through funding from JPMorgan Chase, the Fry Foundation, and other anonymous donors.


CBO Collective

The Community Based Organization Collective (CBO Collective) represents a new day for workforce-focused organizations in Chicago. Driven by the spirit of inclusivity, sixteen nonprofits have organized to springboard 5,000 Black and Brown jobseekers from the South and West Sides of Chicago into gainful employment by aligning corporate demand with a collective workforce development approach. This systems change is driven by the leadership of Chair Karen Freeman-Wilson of the Chicago Urban League and Vice Chairs Karina Ayala-Bermejo of Instituto del Progreso Latino and Marie Trzupek Lynch of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future.


OneTen is a coalition of leading chief executives and their companies who are coming together to upskill, hire and promote one million Black individuals who do not yet have a four-year degree into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement over the next 10 years. OneTen connects employers with talent partners including leading nonprofits and other skill-credentialing organizations who support the development of diverse talent. By creating more equitable and inclusive workforces, we believe we can reach our full potential as a nation of united citizens. OneTen recognizes the unique potential in everyone – every individual, every business, every community – to change the arc of America's story with Black talent. Join us at, where one can be the difference.