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SkillUp Service

by Samantha Weisner , Cuyahoga County Communications Department Editorial Intern
Zenworks Yoga logo in blueCuyahoga County’s innovative talent development service, SkillUp, is helping local non-profit ZENworks Yoga make a larger impact at high-need and underserved schools in the Cleveland area.

Founded in 2010, ZENworks Yoga is a Cleveland-based non-profit organization that provides access to yoga and wellness programming for children and families in under-resourced schools and community organizations.

When first approached about SkillUp, ZENworks Founder and Executive Director Sonya Patel wasn’t sure her business was a good candidate for the service. It wasn’t until she found a potential employee who had a love of yoga and a passion for teaching children, but who didn’t have the necessary yoga certification, that Sonya considered using SkillUp.

All ZENworks Yoga instructors must have a 200-Hour yoga teacher training certificate. While Diane was a perfect fit to be an instructor at ZENworks, she didn’t have the certificate. Neither Diane nor Sonya could afford to pay for the pricey certificate, which is where the SkillUp team stepped in.

“I was scrambling to try to find a solution, and that’s when I remembered SkillUp,” said Sonya.

The SkillUp team worked with Sonya to create a coordinated training plan consisting of classroom instruction and on-the-job training for Diane that resulted in her earning the 200-Hour yoga teacher training certificate she needed to become a ZENworks Yoga instructor.

In order to utilize the SkillUp service, Sonya had to change her entire business model and hire Diane as an employee instead of as an independent contractor. While Sonya had to commit to paying for the training upfront and putting Diane on her payroll during the training process, this move ultimately worked in Sonya’s favor. Having her own employees allowed Sonya to dictate their schedules and expand her program coverage and she will also be reimbursed by SkillUp for the training expenses.

By using SkillUp, Sonya was able to get Diane the training necessary to become an instructor for ZENworks Yoga, giving the non-profit the capacity necessary to reach more children and families and expanding their existing programs. ZENworks Yoga was able to add four additional paid programs, which help fund the organization’s sponsored programs at underserved schools.

“It takes a special kind of person to want to teach yoga to kids,” said Sonya. “In addition to expanding ZENworks’ impact, SkillUp helped me provide someone with that passion the training required to become a ZENworks Yoga instructor.”

Sonya hopes to hire and train additional employees, further widening and deepening ZENworks Yoga’s reach and impact.

Find more information about ZENworks Yoga and learn how to get involved here.

Employers who are interested in learning more about SkillUp should contact the SkillUp team at (216) 443-6930 or

photo of children doing yoga  photo of children doing yoga