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The Cara Program was founded in 1991 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Tom Owens.

Now almost two decades later, The Cara Program has evolved as not only a best-in-class job training and placement provider for individuals affected by homelessness and poverty, but also a vehicle for true life transformation. 

Since its inception, we have placed over 3,250 individuals into quality, permanent employment (at one-year job retention rates of 77%), catalyzing the same number of families to stop the transfer of poverty from one generation to the next.  In addition, The Cara Program boasts two social enterprises - one in neighborhood beautification and the other in property preservation* - that achieve a triple bottom line: over $2 million in revenue annually, more than 250 transitional jobs per year for the hardest to employ, and a steady stream of permanent jobs created within our own growing business. 

Click here for a quick overview of who we are.

*Our second social enterprise, 180 Properties, is a joint venture between The Cara Program and Mercy Housing Lakefront, the largest subsidized housing provider in Chicago.  

The Impact

Avg 1 Yr Savings

v. U.S. average of $199

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Our Partner Programs

  • Clean Slate
  • CHAPTER TWO: HOME OF SECOND CHANCES
  • TCP Staffing

Our Supporters and Employers

  • Accenture
  • Engineered Glass Products
  • Armitage Baptist Church
  • Calumet Area Industrial Commission
  • Ravenswood Community Council
  • Skilken
  • Six Corners Association
  • River North Businesses
  • Various Private Groupon Customers
  • 180° Property Services
  • John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County
  • Illinois Medical District Guest House
  • Little Village Chamber of Commerce
  • Illinois Medical District
  • The Habitat Company
  • Union League Club
  • Scrub Inc.
  • Oce Business Services, Inc.
  • Charter One Bank
  • Standard Bank
  • Palmer House Hilton
  • Hilton Chicago O'Hare
  • Loretto Hospital
  • Gate Gourmet
  • Vacant Property Security
  • Sodexo @ Northwestern
  • Resurrection Healthcare
  • Greyhound
  • Hyatt Regency Chicago
  • Hyatt Regency O'Hare
  • Hyatt Regency McCormick
  • Standard Parking
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Securitas
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital
  • Pierce and Associates
  • Manpower
  • Mercy Housing Lakefront
  • Pitney Bowes
  • Terrace Paper Company
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois
  • Cambridge Commercial Cleaning
  • Center For Working Families
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Chicago Transit Authority
  • Cleanslate
  • Digby's Security
  • Dyson, Inc.
  • ABM Janitorial Services
  • ACORN Housing
  • Allied Barton Security Services
  • ARAMARK
  • Bank of America
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