Our Mission

Our Mission

The North Lawndale Employment Network’s mission is to improve the earnings potential of North Lawndale residents through innovative employment initiatives that lead to economic advancement and an improved quality of life.

We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to work! More importantly, we also believe that our community flourishes when good jobs give residents both paychecks and self-worth.

We help unemployed and underemployed people in the North Lawndale neighborhood and beyond prepare for, find, and succeed at their jobs. Our clients are motivated, trained, equipped, and ready to work—qualities that employers value. We offer donors the chance to invest in an organization with a stellar track record of changing individual lives and improving the community’s quality of life, one person at a time, one job at a time.

Our Programs

We’d love to work with you!


Are you looking for employees who are responsible, motivated, trained, and ready to work? North Lawndale Employment Network can help.Graduates of our four-week training program are better prepared to do the job right and bring savings to your business! By partnering with us, you can contribute to improved retention rates, see employee satisfaction levels rise, and become eligible for tax credits. We’ll help you access the wide range of hiring incentives that best suit your business, such as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (which ranges from $1,400 to $9,000 per year).

About Us

The North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) assists North Lawndale residents through innovative employment initiatives that lead to economic advancement and an improved quality of life. NLEN was founded in 1999 through an 18-month community planning effort led by the Steans Family Foundation to serve the unmet employment needs of the North Lawndale community. NLEN continually updates its services to meet the employment needs of clients and the community at large. NLEN’s approach to addressing the extremely high rates of unemployment and underemployment in North Lawndale is to offer employment services and transitional jobs to North Lawndale residents, many of whom are formerly incarcerated persons and others with significant barriers to employment. NLEN is committed to:

  • Assisting those with barriers to employment, especially former offenders, in securing jobs with family-supporting wages
  • Partnering with employers in recruiting and retaining workers
  • Advocating on behalf of low-income job-seekers
  • Empowering job seekers with access to financial tools and literacy
  • Creating a thriving and sustainable community


Literacy training
Help NLEN’s client base of formerly incarcerated job seekers improve their reading comprehension and writing skills, which helps them to succeed in their transition from job seekers to job performers.
Financial literacy
Volunteer to aid our Financial Literacy coach and provide one on one budgeting help for clients in need of a financial plan.
Computer training
Help NLEN’s clients establish or improve their computer skills, vital to their success in today’s jobs.
Resource center
We always have a need for staff on hand at our Resource Center to assist job seekers with resume and correspondence skills and improvements.
Sweet Beginnings
Have knowledge and experience beekeeping? You could help guide our clients’ accomplishments at Sweet Beginnings, LLC, our model for employers. Visit http://www.sweetbeginningsLLC.com to learn more.
Tea Committee
Our gala fundraising event, Sweet Beginnings Tea, needs fundraising staff year-round. Serve on the Tea Committee to help NLEN and its clients achieve our annual goals of putting community members back to work!


Inquire about volunteer opportunities:


Donate to NLEN

At The North Lawndale Employment Network, we believe that second chances help everyone.
With the help of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, we know that for every $1 that NLEN receives through private donations, foundations, and government support, we return nearly $8 to society in the form of:

  • Taxable wages and benefits
  • Reduced dependence on food assistance, housing subsidies, and other aid programs
  • Lower rates of recidivism, which means fewer property crimes, as well as reduced trial costs and prison/jail operating costs

Our clients turn their lives around. Employers get trained and dedicated employees who are ready to work. And society as a whole benefits.

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  • Upcoming Events

    • U-Turn Permitted Orientation
      May 02, 2014

      Orientation is held the first Friday of every month (except for December) at 10am located at the United Baptist Church, 4220 West Roosevelt Road. Please arrive between 9:30 and 9:45am, as doors close promptly at 10:00am. Bring your current State ID or Driver’s License and a pen and paper.