Our mission is to improve the lives of individuals with barriers to employment through sewing training in practices that protect health of people and the environment while preparing them for fairly paid and sustainable jobs.
“Esperanza Threads works toward social justice through its commitment to treating everyone – including the most vulnerable among us – with dignity, compassion, and kindness.”
– Stella, Esperanza Threads Board Member
To train people in a non-violent, nurturing environment that prepares them to provide for themselves and their families while building dignity and self-esteem.
Esperanza Threads is a non-profit striving to be self-sustaining as a social purpose enterprise located in the city of Cleveland, Ohio. It provides industrial sewing and job readiness training to low-income individuals with multiple barriers to employment, while simultaneously operating as a revenue-generating venture to assist in funding the mission. The enterprise portion of Esperanza Threads is a clothing manufacturer with an apprenticeship that opens up the possibility of placement in other mainstream sewing businesses once workers have acquired certain skills. A custom t-shirt division is opening and printing skills will be included in the training. Esperanza Threads was founded by Sister Mary Eileen Boyle with the aid of a ministry grant from the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland. Initially, the organization started as a Cleveland extension of The Grassroots Cooperative located in Maryland and run by John and Iona Connor. John Connor presented to Sr. Mary Eileen the importance of educating people about social justice issues in both third world countries and in the USA. It was a revelation in regard to populations of people trying to earn a living but stuck in sweatshops without decent working conditions or pay. In some instances, a modern slave trade was producing clothing for Americans who had no idea where or under what circumstances their clothes were being made. The other focus of the Grassroots Cooperative was environmental justice. Conventional cotton that is grown with the use of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and sprayed or soaked in chlorine bleach and formaldehyde leads to pollution in the air, streams and ground water. Traces of these chemicals can lead to health issues for the wearers. Because of this, organic cotton and other fibers were a good alternative. In 2001, the Cleveland Grassroots Cooperative became independent and was renamed Esperanza Threads. In 2002, they were designated as their own 501[c]3 non-profit. The values of social and environmental justice remained a guide stone for Esperanza Threads. At the outset, women were sewing in their homes, but the need to be together and have good oversight of the products led to Esperanza Threads finding a home in Bedford, Ohio on the property of the Vincentian Sister who later merged with The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. This community of sisters was a major support for this fledgling endeavor. In 2011, a new location was needed when the Sisters were selling their property. A building owned by Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church was found on the near west side of Cleveland. The pastor, the parish council and the school welcomed Esperanza Threads and considered it to be an extension of their outreach to the community. The present location on the near west side of Cleveland places the training program squarely within reach of partner agencies and churches dedicated to finding individuals who need skills to make them good candidates for jobs as sewing workers. The constituents of the training program consist of low-income and unemployed Clevelanders, which includes refugees who have come to Cleveland with a hope for new lives, individuals recovering from addictions, the homeless and returning non-violent felons. Most coming into the program have never sewn on industrial machines. Upon completion of training, they are prepared to apply for a job that will accept people who have skills in basic sewing on industrial machines and have demonstrated a willingness to continue to learn specific skills.
April 4, 2000
July 20, 2001
A New Location – Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church
April 20, 2019