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CTA Helps Individuals Break Poverty Cycle through Cleanslate Partnership


  • Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is working to help Chicagoans break the cycle of poverty by linking people to training and job opportunities.
  • As part of its workforce development efforts for the Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Phase One Project, CTA has partnered with Cleanslate, a social enterprise of workforce development agency Cara. Cleanslate helps individuals secure transitional employment and learn valuable job skills to reenter the workforce.

Partnership Details

  • Through a contract between CTA and Cleanslate, Cleanslate interns are providing disposal and cleanup services in the RPM Phase One project areas, near the Belmont, Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations.
  • While Cleanslate offers community cleaning services, it also helps prepare and inspire motivated individuals break the cycle of homelessness and poverty, transform their lives, strengthen Chicago communities and forge paths to real and lasting success.
  • Through the support of Cara, Cleanslate interns learn how to build workplace competencies and professional brands, alongside other skills such as digital literacy and industry credentials, to help secure long-term jobs.
  • Participant backgrounds range from stay-at-home parent with a job history gap to being stuck in the temporary job circuit to having a conviction history, although less than half of each organization’s participants have committed a felony.
  • Throughout the 13-week internship, program participants go through a training and developmental process, which includes:
    • Development training to rapidly engage, build camaraderie and discuss character building and socio-economic topics, while also strengthening professional skills;
    • Onboarding to learn Cleanslate’s safety practices, operational procedures and day-to-day tasks, as well as how to work with different supervisors, follow employee protocols, manage time efficiently, meet deadlines and provide exceptional customer services;
    • Performance evaluations based on development of workplace competencies, such as teamwork, time management, professionalism, conflict resolution and communication;
    • And the opportunity to attend certification courses, such as OSHA-10 or food service training, or workshops to discuss past life challenges that may have led to unemployment and/or poverty so that, if confronted anew, participants would be more able to block and tackle with new tools and practices.

By the Numbers

  • Since Cleanslate began working on RPM, 21 interns have worked on the project and five have gone on to permanent employment.
  • Since 2007, approximately 284 jobs have been created through CTA’s partnership with Cara.
  • For more information about RPM Phase One’s workforce development efforts and opportunities, go to com/rpm/jobs.

Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Program

  • RPM is a transformational, multi-phase project that will ensure the Red Line’s future for generations to come – and an investment in the next 60-80 years.
  • This project will benefit the entire Red Line—both north and south – by addressing chronic overcrowding and delays and modernizing infrastructure that is more than a century old.
  • CTA customers will benefit from modern, more accessible stations, more train service and reduced delays and overcrowding.

RPM Phase One

  • CTA has begun Phase One of RPM, which will modernize and expand capacity on CTA’s Red Line to improve service for customers, while enhancing customers’ access to jobs, retail, and community services.
  • Phase One includes:
  • Reconstructing the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations into larger, 100-percent accessible stations and track structure totaling six miles that is nearly a century old
  • Building a rail bypass north of Belmont station that will improve service reliability on the Red, Purple and Brown lines, increasing train speeds, easing overcrowding on rail cars and providing capacity for projected future growth; and rebuilding the Red and Purple Lines from Belmont to between Newport and Cornelia.
  • Installing a new signal system on 23 track miles between Howard and Belmont that, similar to roadway traffic signals, will improve CTA train flow and increase service reliability.
  • Major project construction began in October 2019 and will be completed in 2025.

For more information about this project, visit or contact Tammy Chase, CTA, (312) 620-1127 or

Keywords: Cleanslate, CTA, Job, Job Training, Jobs, Workforce Development

Posted in Workforce and Career Development