Providing paths to independence through employment....
iCan Work! is The Foundation's newest program. In partnership with APD (Agency for Persons with Disabilities) and Bishop Grady Villas we will provide competitive employment opportunities that lead to a greater sense of accomplishment, self-worth and a new community of friends.
We believe that full inclusion spans the entire life of an individual with Down syndrome and one of the most important and longest periods of their life are their 'working years' after school ends. Our iCan Work! program is geared to help move individuals with Down syndrome from the educational environment to the workplace.
According to Seth Harris, US Deputy Security of Labor Office, even 22 years after the passing of Americans with Disabilities Act the unemployment rate of individuals with disabilities tops 15%. Even worse, 8 out of 10 working age persons with disabilities are out of the labor force entirely which means they are not working or looking for work. It is our hope that through our unique partnership we will be able to help transition our members over 18 years old into meaningful employment.
Our efforts are aligned with an employment initiative that APD is currently working towards which makes this a unique and powerful program. Not only will we move individuals into competitive employment, but we will also be able to move individuals off of the APD wait-list and into productive roles in the community. Our goal to move individuals off the Florida wait-list by matching funds will double to money available AND allow for The Foundation and our partners to better educate employers about the value that individuals with disabilities can bring to the workplace.
The iCan Work! Program is more than just a job for individuals with Down syndrome, it is a journey that includes a discovery process that will allow them to explore what career options best fit their interests and skill sets which will allow them to succeed. They will work with their Job Coach and Employer to set goals and expand their skill sets needed to be successful in the workplace. In the workplace they will establish a network of peers and friends who will not only help them in their role, but will benefit from their presence in their place of employment. These are important skills for everyone and provide meaningful lessons that can be applied across all areas of their life. Our partner, Bishop Grady Villas, has done outstanding work finding fulfilling and creative employment opportunities for many individuals with varying abilities and we know that with their expertise and leadership our clients are going to gain much more than just a paycheck - although that is a pretty nice incentive!
Through this program we will showcase our employment success stories and highlight the companies in our region that support diversity and competitive employment for individuals with Down syndrome. We believe that by having more adults with Down syndrome active and contributing in our community we will help highlight the potential every individual which will provide benefits into other areas such as education and overall inclusion. The Foundation will be reaching out to our network of donors, supporters, members and community champions to help us find companies who share in our vision and want to make a difference to help this program grow and succeed.
Our pilot program will launched in the Fall of 2012 and is open to individuals with Down syndrome in the Central Florida area (APD Area 7 Region). It is our hope that as the program develops and grows that we can expand it into other areas of the state, however, at this time to ensure a successful launch we will be working with one APD office and one local partner (Bishop Grady Villas).
To learn more about our partners, please visit their websites:
Applications will be accepted on an on-going basis. You will be contacted by someone at The Foundation once your application has been received and processed. Please allow 2 weeks for a response. The employment process will vary based on each application, funds available by APD at the time of application and the availability of a Job Coach. We encourage any individual with Down syndrome over the age of 18 to apply even if you live outside of Area 7 so we can share your interest and information with other APD offices. (Application below)