The new Economic Opportunity Center (EOC) at Breakthrough reflects a deepened commitment to the wellness of East Garfield Park. With resources for education, work experiences, and supportive services, the EOC provides an integrated approach to economic stability and financial empowerment.

Breakthrough is committed to meeting residents where they’re at. To that end, we walk with residents on their personal finance journey in a few key ways: workforce development, financial coaching, income support, housing, and supporting the launch of small businesses. 

Courses support career and financial success

The EOC offers four-week courses on career readiness, led by Employment Coordinator Kajaria Johnson, and financial empowerment, led by Financial Coach Carolyn Crockett. These courses help participants develop critical skills for career and financial success, such as how to create a resume, interview for a job, build credit, set financial goals, and develop digital literacy.

Earlier this month, the inaugural cohort celebrated their completion of the courses.

“When I first started this program here at Breakthrough, I was unsure about my future and I was intimidated by the workforce,” says Keysha, who participated in the career readiness and financial empowerment classes. She says of the former, “Since being in the program, it has allowed me to brush up on my skills, as far as resume building and teaching me the basics on how to look for jobs on the computer.”

Economic Opportunity Center Participant
Keysha, a participant in the Economic Opportunity Center’s career readiness and financial empowerment courses.

Deborah said the financial empowerment course was informative and useful. “Building a relationship with your money is very important,” she says. “And Carolyn Crockett has taught me so much about having a relationship with my money with time management, how to budget my money, and how to spend it wisely.”

Keysha and Deborah said they recommend the classes to individuals who want to prepare themselves for the workforce and access resources.

Accomplishing goals

Reflecting on the first session, Kajaria said she hopes the courses offered safe spaces to work through issues and barriers.

Her career readiness class covered a variety of topics and worked on the development of critical skills. Additionally, she says, “We got a chance to get to know each other…everyone has a story about what is holding them back, but here, by the end of the four weeks, the class became like victory and freedom.”

She is optimistic that participants are leaving the program with a change in mind from when they arrived and looks forward to keeping participants connected to the network of support at Breakthrough.

“They’re on a mission, and we’re on a mission with them to help them accomplish their goals,” Kajaria says.


The Economic Opportunity Center offers four-week classes throughout the year. To enroll in the next session, submit the form at