Upper Arlington's largest private employer last week received a $50,000 grant to assist workforce development programming for disabled and formerly homeless people.

Upper Arlington's largest private employer last week received a $50,000 grant to assist workforce development programming for disabled and formerly homeless people.

The Nationwide Insurance Foundation announced June 4 it would give $50,000 to Upper Arlington-based National Church Residences, to support workforce development efforts at the organization's six permanent supportive housing communities.

According to National Church Residences officials, the grant will enable the nonprofit organization to fund a workforce development director.

That director will shape a comprehensive plan for providing disabled and homeless individuals with housing and services to improve their employment skills and access to jobs.

"These are the disabled and formerly homeless who live in our permanent supportive housing communities," said Jeff Wolf, senior vice president of philanthropy and communications at National Church Residences. "This really helps us to expand the program to other sites and have a more comprehensive program."

The multi-tiered workforce development program, Wolf said, is aimed at ending the cycle of homelessness.

It involves pre-employment services, including assisting disabled and formerly homeless people to obtain general equivalency diplomas (GEDs) and language instruction for those whose native language is not English.

There also is work-readiness training; National Church Residences partners with organizations and agencies such as Goodwill Columbus, the Chalmers P. Wylie VA Ambulatory Care Center on North James Road in Columbus and Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio to provide job and volunteer opportunities.

"You need to have employers who are willing to hire these people," Wolf said. "We're working in the community in order to develop those relationships.

"What we're trying to do is stabilize those individuals. ... Our philosophy is to have a platform for services because we want to get them stabilized housing and then, hopefully, we can get them services that help them become productive citizens."

In a press statement, a representative of the Nationwide Insurance Foundation said its organization seeks to support causes that empower people and strengthen communities.

"The Nationwide Insurance Foundation is proud to support organizations that make a positive difference in people's lives during times of critical need," said Chad Jester, president, of the Nationwide Insurance Foundation. "With an important mission, National Church Residences provides the necessary support to members of our community as they rebuild their lives."

In addition to a workforce development director, Wolf said the grant will offset National Church Residences' costs for employment specialists who will work directly with those in the organization's permanent supportive housing communities.

National Church Residences established its permanent supportive housing program in 2004. Wolf said there currently are approximately 450 people living in its permanent supportive housing communities, including five in central Ohio.

One of those communities is the Commons at Livingston, 3349 Livingston Ave., Columbus, which serves disabled and formerly homeless military veterans. It currently is being expanded from 50 to 100 units.

Wolf also noted that a related program launched in March to find jobs for 100 residents of permanent supportive housing within 100 days resulted in 103 local people entering the workforce.