The Community Works will partner with all willing and capable people, that are unable to sustain themselves and their families, to assist them in advancing to economic self-sufficiency through employment.


We will lead the effort to eliminate poverty in Lake County, IL.


We believe in the dignity of work and that every individual deserves the opportunity to earn that dignity. As a primarily privately funded organization, we serve all willing and capable job seekers who are eligible for our program. We believe in:

  • Dignity of work
  • Personal stability
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Strengthening communities
  • Transforming lives

Our Programs

Job Readiness is the core program at The Community Works. It helps our Members take a step back, identify their strengths and skills, then move forward with specific goals and a strategy in mind.

For most Members, Job Readiness begins with a three-day JumpStart workshop, where they learn employer expectations, define their professional strengths, then practice presenting those strengths during mock interviews.

All Members are paired with an employment coach who serves as a guide during the job search, helping Members find leads and prepare for interviews. We also have computers available for Members to use at no cost when searching or applying for jobs, along with a staff member who will assist them with online applications.

Financial literacy is often the missing link to establishing economic self-sufficiency. We have financial coaches who provide a range of FREE financial services to our Members, including:

  • Budgeting
  • Understanding & Building Credit
  • Tax Preparation
  • Saving & Checking Accounts
  • Debt Resolution
  • Accessing Loans

For Members who have demonstrated a level of professional stability – most commonly by achieving one year of steady employment with the same employer – the Advance You program offers another step toward self-sufficiency.

Through Advance You, our coaches assist Members in pursuing additional skills training, attending college or developing specific trades or interpersonal skills, which helps them advance in their careers and increase their pay.

Our Story

When Bob Brinley retired the first time, the Brinleys were very involved in their church’s food pantry, but still felt there was more to the solution in fighting poverty.  As problem solvers by nature, they went on a mission, investigating ways to have a more lasting impact on the individuals being served, as well as the economic condition of the community.  They read, researched, interviewed, met with and visited numerous programs and agencies throughout the country.  What they found was that the most impactful programs focused on eliminating poverty through employment, and more specifically, through job retention and advancement.  Based on the success rate, values, methods, economics and replicability of the program, the Brinleys partnered with Cincinnati Works to bring their program to Lake County, Illinois.

Lake County is very diverse and has considerable economic disparity among its residents.  While Lake County has the highest per capita income of all counties in Illinois, 25% of our residents are considered low income, which means they are unable to support themselves without subsidy.  In some of the poorest communities, approximately 25% of the residents are at or below the poverty level and 50% are below the self-sustaining level.  Two of the top 10 high schools in Illinois are located in Lake County, but we are also home to some of the lowest ranked schools.  Even with decreasing unemployment rates, poverty levels in our poorest communities continue to rise.  The current programs to alleviate poverty aren’t working.

Bob and Marcia Brinley retired from their successful business careers in 2016 with the dream of launching The Community Works, Inc. NFP.  The vision/mission of The Community Works (TCW) is to partner with individuals to assist them in advancing to economic self-sufficiency through employment.  Our business model is based on the very successful Cincinnati Works model which is currently being replicated in 23 cities across the United States.

Watch this short video about Cincinnati Works to give you greater insight into the program we are implementing in Lake County.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sww3AgkIAuY

Several key elements distinguish TCW’s Workforce Development program from others in addressing the dual challenge of rising poverty and labor shortages. We:

  • Provide 1:1 Coaching for Members through the entire process – from job readiness, to placement, retention and advancement.  Relationships matter!
  • Approach the member holistically, concentrating on Barrier Removal, to maximize retention and advancement opportunities.
  • Promote Lifetime Membership, centered on sustained employment and advancement for continued income growth over time
  • Partner with other successful agencies and non-profits to maximize overall effectiveness and avoid “reinventing the wheel”
  • Work with Employers to identify needed training and to ensure appropriate job/employee matches

Another one of the Brinleys first key partnerships was in joining forces with the Ronnel and Yvette Ewing and The Fuller Housing Center of Lake County, who have been providing housing, promoting wellness and bringing people and jobs together for the past five years.  We have been, and continue to be, inspired by the work the Ewings have been doing and the lives they have touched!  To date, they have provided training and placed 150 people in jobs in Lake County, in the construction trades, office work, sustainable agriculture, and the culinary trades.

By joining forces with the Ewings, we believe that we have formed a truly God-ordained partnership!  This partnership allows The Fuller Center to do what it does best, focusing on housing only, and The Community Works to take over the Wellness and Job components of the Ewings prior endeavors.  In order to ensure a seamless transition and future, Yvette Ewing is now also the Executive Director of The Community Works and Ronnel Ewing has joined our Board of Directors.  This arrangement puts The Community Works in a position to hit the ground running and ramp up quickly for future growth.

By integrating the Cincinnati Works program elements with the work previously set in motion by the Fuller Center (teaching wellness, providing technical training, job placement, and building relationships with other agencies and programs), we plan to significantly increase the number of people served in, and the economic impact on, our county.

In order to accomplish this, we need your help…both financially and physically!  We need heroes – to give their time, talent, or treasure.  Together we can make a difference in Lake County, employing communities and transforming lives!