New Directions Career Center

Celebrating 40 years!

In 1980, a group of professional women formed a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting “displaced homemakers” who were re-entering the labor market as a result of being widowed or divorced. Named The Displaced Homemaker Program, it received initial federal funding funneled through the City of Columbus. Four years later, it was renamed the Center for New Directions. In 1993, the Center formed a collaborative arrangement with Columbus State Community College and moved onto their campus.

In 1997, the Center began to receive United Way funding, which allowed for expansion of programs and services. New educational programs were developed to focus on career exploration and job search skills, including resume writing, interviewing skills and salary negotiations. These programs were offered during the evenings and weekends and were open to both men and women, expanding the client base to include not only the unemployed, but also the under-employed and workers looking to transfer their employment skills to a different field.

In 2000, the Center opened the Best Foot Forward Career Clothing Closet, to provide quality, new and gently-used professional clothing to women for job interviews and to start new jobs. The Closet also served clients from other human service organizations and was open to the public as a resource for free or discount clothing.

In 2003, the student population at Columbus State increased so dramatically that the college decided to tear down the building which housed the Center to make way for more classroom and office space for their students and faculty. As a result, the Center moved its offices to 370 S. Fifth Street.

In 2005, the Center changed its name to New Directions Career Center (NDCC) in an effort to better communicate its role in the community. In 2006, a Placement Service was developed to further assist graduates of the Center with obtaining jobs. A Mock Interview Program was also implemented with the help of corporate volunteers committed to conducting these interviews with Center program graduates as a means of preparing them for the real experience.

In 2006, the Clothing Closet lost its free space and moved into rented space. NDCC could not afford to pay for rented space to house the Clothing Closet in addition to rental space for administrative and classroom space. In 2008, the Center partnered with Goodwill Columbus and transitioned the administration of the Clothing Closet to Goodwill Columbus. This collaboration between NDCC and Goodwill allowed for the expansion of operating hours for the Closet from 18 hrs./wk. to more than 60 hrs./wk, with growth opportunities at multiple locations. This transition also allowed the Center to focus solely on the achievement of its core mission. During 2008, the Center, with funding from the Van Degna Foundation, developed and began delivering a financial literacy program for our clients.

In 2009, the Center moved its administrative offices and classroom space to 199 E. Rich Street (the renovated space that previously housed the Clothing Closet). This move allowed for better bus line access and the ground floor space is more accessible to individuals with mobility issues. The Center ran a pilot program in the summer of 2009 to address the needs of “seasoned workers” in need of returning to the work place. In September 2009, the pilot-tested program became a regularly offered program. Entitled, “Bridging the Digital and Professional Divide” this 56-hour program helps older workers become computer literate and develop the communication skills necessary to be successful in securing employing in today’s job market.

In 2020, NDCC is celebrating 40 years of service to central Ohioans. During that 30 year period, more than 60,000 lives have been touched. Nearly 3,000 of these individuals are graduates of the New Directions Program. When the Center was established in 1980, the New Directions Program was its first program, and remains the most intensive core program today. The women graduates of the New Directions Program have achieved outstanding results. An average of these results is as follows:

  • 100% of all program graduates completed a career plan.
  • An average of more than 80% have dropped all or part of public assistance after program completion.
  • An average of more than 80% of program graduates realized an increase in annual income after program completion.
  • An average of 70% attained economic self-sufficiency after program completion.
  • Graduates of the New Directions Program have consistently shown earnings that are substantially more than the minimum wage and exceed the average earnings of graduates from other agency’s employment programs. For example, the average earnings for program graduates from the most recent year-end survey was $12.37/hr. compared to $9.78 average for all employment programs funded by United Way of Central Ohio .

These statistics, combined with many success stories, illustrate that at New Directions Career Center – lives get changed here!