Newswise — CLEVELAND -- University Hospitals recently received two grants in support of its Workforce Development programs.  The Cleveland Foundation awarded an $85,000 grant to the Professional Pathways and Step Up to UH programs, and Dominion Energy Ohio awarded a $10,000 grant to Step Up.

UH developed its Workforce Development (WD) strategy with the goal of hiring and retaining local residents in jobs that provide a family sustaining wage and then providing resources and support to help employees advance in their careers into higher skilled, higher paying jobs. In 2013, UH established its formal series of WD programs, including Step Up for external candidates and Pathways for incumbent employees.

Step Up to UH has helped more than 200 people to date.  Entry level positions offered through Step Up are an ideal starting point for those motivated to further their careers.

According to Kim Shelnick, Vice President, Human Resources at UH, the Step Up to UH program was created in 2013 to help local candidates prepare for employment. Participants receive work readiness training, job coaches and wrap-around services. 

“Through the creation of Step Up to UH, we receive a steady stream of qualified candidates for positions in both environmental services and nutrition services," said Shelnick. “There are many people who want to work, and we have open positions. It's a win-win."

With this support from the Cleveland Foundation and Dominion Energy Ohio, Step Up will continue with a focus on recruiting participants, particularly from the University Circle neighborhood. Two local organizations partner with UH: Neighborhood Connections will help recruit and Towards Employment will oversee training.

This will allow UH to train and hire up to 30 people who will then continue to receive job training from the onsite job coach from Towards Employment.

UH’s goal is to continue generating a pipeline of candidates from the neighborhood who can step into the vacancies created by those who are promoted as a result of their Pathways training.

Professional Pathways, in partnership with Towards Employment and another local organization, NewBridge, is designed as an internal pathway for UH employees who do not want to work in direct patient care and wish to increase their professional customer service skills to improve their hire-ability for targeted administrative positions.

Professional Pathways was piloted in 2017 and demonstrated the overall success of the model. More than 100 current UH employees expressed interest in the program, 40 passed the entrance assessment, 21 were accepted into the program, and 15 completed the program in fall of 2017. So far, seven graduates have been hired into new roles. Of note is that two of the seven hired are previous Step Up to UH participants.

In total, with the new grant included, the Cleveland Foundation has awarded the WD programs at UH $535,000 since 2014.  The foundation supported the pilot program and subsequent expansion.

Dominion Energy Ohio awarded the gift through its Community Impact Awards presented in early March to community and non-profit organizations making significant positive contributions in their communities.  Step Up to UH was one of 12 winning community organizations who were awarded a total of $115,000 in grants in Dominion Energy Ohio’s 23rd annual Community Impact Awards competition, co-sponsored with Cleveland Magazine.

Someone who benefitted from the Pathways Program is Rhonda Worley, a new high school graduate and a longtime UH employee. She is on a pathway to a promising career. At 59, she has learned never to give up – and in no small part because UH never gave up on her.

UH provided support to this Cleveland resident when she struggled to complete her GED and opportunity when she sought advancement at the hospital. She has never forgotten the flexibility extended by her supervisors through a pair of difficult personal situations.

“This hospital is just wonderful,” said Worley, who recently completed a training program to become a Patient Access Representative. “They have so much going on to support you.”

The hard-working mother of five and guardian of three grandchildren has appreciated the guidance and support from Pathways Coach Faye Naftzger, who helped her with math, suggested job prospects and coached her on the soft skills necessary to succeed.

Worley was among 21 Pathways participants from 104 applicants across the system selected to train for a position in Patient Access. She learned medical terminology, managing difficult situations and applying her experience dealing with people.

Patient care staff are often reminded to ask patients, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” Worley was impressed to find UH leaders who follow this same principle with staff.

“They were so supportive,” said Worley, who juggled housekeeping jobs both at UH and at a hotel nine years ago before an understanding boss here won her complete loyalty. “I just remember how that manager made me feel. There was a difference. They cared, and that really impressed me.”

For more information about UH's Workforce Development programs, please call Senior Workforce Development Professional Adrianne Shadd at 216-767-8365.


About University Hospitals

Founded in 1866, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 18 hospitals, more than 40 outpatient health centers and 200 physician offices in 15 counties throughout northern Ohio. The system’s flagship academic medical center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, located on a 35-acre campus in Cleveland’s University Circle, is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The main campus also includes University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. UH is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research programs in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and urology. UH Cleveland Medical Center is perennially among the highest performers in national ranking surveys, including “America’s Best Hospitals” from U.S. News & World Report. UH is also home to Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals – part of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development. UH is one of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio with 28,000 employees.

UH’s vision is “Advancing the science of health and the art of compassion,” and its mission: “To Heal. To Teach. To Discover.”  Follow UH on Facebook @UniversityHospitals and Twitter @UHhospitals. For more information, go to

About the Cleveland Foundation

Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world's first community foundation and one of the largest today, with assets of $2.45 billion and 2017 grants of more than $101 million. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of residents of Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation tackles the community’s priority areas – education and youth development, neighborhoods, health and human services, arts and culture, and economic development – and responds to the community’s needs. For more information, visit and follow us on Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram (@CleveFoundation).

About Dominion Energy  Dominion Energy is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 26,000 megawatts of electric generation, 14,800 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline, and 6,600 miles of electric transmission lines. Dominion Energy operates one of the nation's largest natural gas storage systems with approximately 1 trillion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves nearly 6 million utility and retail energy customers. For more information about Dominion Energy, visit the company's website at