Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced five grant awards totaling $854K for the Employment Program for Young Adults with Disabilities. These grants will support initiatives to train young adults with disabilities for the workplace, place them into jobs, and provide post-placement support to help them stay employed. Awardees include Community Work Services (CWS) in Boston, Employment Options in Marlborough, Horace Mann Education Associates (HMEA) in Franklin, Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) in Boston, and the Polus Center for Social & Economic Development, Inc., in Petersham.
Employment Program for Young Adults with Disabilities is funded through the state budget and administered by Commonwealth Corporation on behalf of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
“Training young people with disabilities, with the goal of placing them into opportunities that offer meaningful employment, is such important work as we look to create a more equitable workforce,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta. “We are not able to be successful in these efforts without our community-focused partners and employers.”
Each grant awardee will receive funding towards their high-quality training programs. “The growth of the Commonwealth’s investment in these programs is incredibly inspiring and will have real impact,” said Anthony Britt, Director of Sector Strategies for Commonwealth Corporation. “I am thrilled about the additional funding supporting these mission-driven organizations this year as they seek to build upon their work within the disability community. These programs are all about connecting people with employers who are committed to increasing job quality and inclusion in the workplace.”
Applicants were required to be led by a community-based organization with demonstrated success and expertise in preparing young adults with disabilities for employment, placing them in unsubsidized positions, and providing post-placement support that leads to employment retention. Organizations also needed to show evidence of effective partnerships with employers that engage them in program design and delivery, resulting in placements and retained employment of young adults with disabilities in targeted occupations at the employers’ workplaces.
The following is a complete list of the organizations awarded Young Adults with Disabilities Prepare for Employment grants:
Community Work Services (CWS), Boston – funding amount $151,000
CWS trains and places participants in food arts, commercial production, and building and grounds maintenance jobs. Program partners include Star Market, Block by Block, and Finesse Hospitality. Trainees will also receive up to 12 months of professional career coaching in support of their career goals.
Employment Options, Marlborough – funding amount $145,000
Employment Options trains and places participants in food service jobs. Program partners include Nothing Bundt Cakes, Niche Hospitality, Quinsigamond Community College, and Work Without Limits/UMASS Medical School. Employment Options strives to continually meet the needs of their employer partners while cultivating a culture of inclusion that recognizes the ability and value of young adults with disabilities.
Horace Mann Education Associates (HMEA), Franklin – funding amount $150,000
HMEA trains and places participants in information technology positions. Program partners include Dell, Iterators LLC, Neurodiversity in the Workplace, and MassHire Central Region Workforce Board. The program aims to prepare individuals on the autism spectrum with information technology employers by addressing specific barriers to employment.
Jewish Vocational Services (JVS), Boston – funding amount: $210,000
JVS trains and places participants in retail and foodservice positions. Program partners include CVS Health, Sodexo, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Services are designed to meet the needs of young adults with disabilities and their families by closing gaps in the current service system, particularly the lack of competitive employment opportunities and weak ties to an underutilized business community.
Polus Center for Social & Economic Development, Petersham – funding amount: $198,000
Polus Center trains and places participants in retail and customer service jobs. Program partners include Whole Foods Market, Price Chopper Market, MassHire North Central Workforce Board, and Thryv Consulting. Participants will complete four weeks of virtual “Retail Skills for Success” training followed by four weeks of on-the-job-training at one of the supermarkets.