President’s Message

President Message

 

 

December 2015

2015 has been a year of great success and has ended with a bang. In October the Rehabilitation Services Administration awards the Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Grant Award to San Diego State University’s Interwork Institute. PolicyWorks was a partner in that award in addition to University of Arkansas, George Washington University, Syracuse University/Burton Blatt Institute, the Council of State Vocational Rehabilitation Administrators, National Disability Institute and the Career Index. The goal of the Center is to work with State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies and Workforce Boards to integrate services to better serve their common customers with disabilities. We are also scheduled to pilot peer mentoring in three states beginning in 2017.

Then last week, in partnership with Stand Among Friends at Florida Atlantic University, we were awarded a Signature Employment grant from the Kessler Foundation to bring our College to Career Transition program for students with disabilities to Florida during 2016-17. Broward College is also a partner in this program and over the next two years we willl introduce the model to one other four year university and one additional college. The Millbank Foundation also provided invaluable support to help make this happen.

Our California C2C program is finishing its first two years as a Kessler-funded project. We have servied 145 college students with disabilities and have demonstrated success in changing attitudes and perceptions students have about their value in the marketplace, how to market their disability and ability to succeed in building a career. San Diego State’s Interwork Institute, Paul Hippolitus and the University of California and California State University Fullerton have been wonderful partners in this work. Students report this program has changed their lives and placements rates are expected to exceed 75%, with average hourly wages for full-time students at $12.07/hr and an average wage for salaried positions of $60,400.

We continue to work on SSI employment policy issues for youth with disabilities with our partners at World Institute on Disability. Our model, CareerACCESS program was the focus of a NCIL workshop at their annual conference, as well as a public hearing sponsored by the National Disability Council and a meeting of Federal Agency Heads – all during the ADA Celebration period. As a follow-up, our National CareerACCESS Core Group was delighted with Jennifer Sheehy, Acting Assistant Secretary of DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy invited 5 of our young adult leaders to speak at a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive, Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities.

A major Board achievement was the development of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition in partnership with Partners for Youth with Disabilities. Its mission is to increase the awareness, quality and impact of mentoring for individuals with disabilities across the nation. Member organizations share core values and align with the Coalition’s objectives to streamline communication, standardize and systematize data collection, reduce duplication of efforts, increase mentoring opportunities, and improve outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities. Members include: American Association of People with Disabilities, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Broad Futures, Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, D.C. Public Schools, Easter Seals, Institute for Educational Leadership,EIN SOF, Inc. Keep the Music Playing, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, MENTOR: The National Partnership, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, National Council on Independent Living, Partners for Youth with Disabilities, PolicyWorks, Inc., The Viscardi Center, and United States Business Leadership Network. Learn more about the NDMC and its Members at: www.disabilitymentors.org.

 

– Barbara Butz, President