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Onecedarvalley board

One Cedar Valley Brings Power of Partnerships to Create Equitable Job Opportunities

January 5, 2022

One Cedar Valley is not an organization many have heard of yet, and though its name is new, its story began as a call for action after the 2018 24/7 Wall Street report naming Waterloo and Cedar Falls as the worst place to live for Blacks in the United States. After this, an idea for economic inclusion grew out of the Future Ready Cedar Valley Summit in November 2019, addressing workforce strategies and job readiness. The effort to create an organization to break down workforce barriers in the Cedar Valley has been a story of the power of partnerships.

“One Cedar Valley was born out of and continues to be led by diverse partnerships, both from the perspective of race and the professional sector,” said One Cedar Valley executive committee chair, Debra Hodges-Harmon. “The creation of this organization has truly been a community collaboration with every partner understanding that giving all people the opportunity to thrive makes a better, stronger Cedar Valley for everyone.”

The organization’s vision is rooted in inclusion, believing in the talent of those living in the Cedar Valley and a need to keep it in the community. Its mission is to help individuals and employers succeed by overcoming and eliminating barriers to employment.

“Employers in the Cedar Valley are looking for employees, and we have people living here who can not just fill these roles but excel in them,” said Kaye Englin, CFNEIA president and CEO, and One Cedar Valley executive committee vice chair. “Through in-depth research, we know its possible to identify and overcome barriers to employment and connect employees to jobs that empower the individual, their family, the employer, and the community.”

To break down barriers, One Cedar Valley will focus on working with individuals to connect them to resources that present greater opportunities to successful employment, with intentionality given to creating economic vitality in the Cedar Valley’s Black community.

CFNEIA has been a partner in the establishment of One Cedar Valley from the beginning, providing leadership on the board, serving as the organization’s fiscal sponsor, and grant funding to support necessary infrastructure and capacity building. Most recently, CFNEIA awarded a $35,000 mission fulfillment grant, increasing the total grants awarded to One Cedar Valley to $55,000.

“The grants are an amazing boost to One Cedar Valley and what we are working towards,” said Debra. “The support and leadership from the Foundation opens doors and creates other opportunities for collaboration in the Cedar Valley.”