Grants Will Diversify and Strengthen New York’s Workforce by Preparing People with Developmental Disabilities for Success in Today’s Labor Market
Governor Kathy Hochul today () announced that more than $13 million in grants have been awarded by the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities to seven nonprofit service providers statewide to fund career-specific vocational training opportunities for people with developmental disabilities over the next four years.
“Our state’s vibrant economy depends on the hard work and expertise of all New Yorkers,” Governor Hochul said. “People with developmental disabilities have the same desire and right to contribute to the workforce and to be self-sufficient. This funding will prepare people for success on the job and help employers fill vital vacancies.”
New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Kerri Neifeld said, “With this targeted training initiative, we advance our understanding of what is possible for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities. As we empower more people to work, we will demonstrate new, effective ways to support people and show the world the strength and success that results when employers fully embrace diversity and inclusion.
People with developmental disabilities traditionally have been under-represented in the general workforce. These career training programs will help people with developmental disabilities gain the skills and experience needed to secure employment and close the unemployment gap for people with disabilities.
In 2022, Governor Hochul recognized the need for increased vocational training opportunities for people with developmental disabilities and provided funding for OPWDD to develop and deliver career-specific vocational training that will prepare people to enter the workforce and enjoy fulfilling careers.
This action is in line with the Governor’s issuance of Executive Order 31 “Committing New York State to Becoming a Model Employer for People with Disabilities” and the launch of the annual DREAM symposium, and further builds on New York State’s commitment to supporting people with disabilities to pursue employment. The training developed and delivered through these grants will be combined with community vocational experiences funded through OPWDD’s comprehensive Home and Community-Based Services Waiver. The training will help people develop marketable skills that can meet the demands of today’s employers and lead to employment success. More people with developmental disabilities will be able to bring their personal contribution to the workforce, ensuring stronger, more diverse and inclusive communities.
Grants have been awarded to the following service providers:
- Access: Supports for Living Inc.
- AccessCNY, Inc.
- Community Services for Every1, Inc.
- Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc.
- Jawonio, Inc.
- AHRC NYC
- Upstate Caring Partners
Access: Supports for Living Inc. President & CEO Ron Colavito said, “Access: Supports for Living Inc. was founded on the belief that people with disabilities had the ability to participate in meaningful, competitive employment and the desire to be part of welcoming workplaces. We have seen, time and again, that representation matters, and it yields immeasurable, positive impact on the person, their workplace, and their community. We applaud Governor Hochul and Commissioner Neifeld for their understanding and action to create more inclusive, diverse communities.”
Executive Director Paul Joslyn said, “AccessCNY is grateful for the opportunity to expand our employment services for people with disabilities in Central New York. In partnership with Upstate Caring Partners and three other providers, AccessCNY will train folks with disabilities for careers in food or janitorial services. We are excited to begin these classes in the coming weeks and working with the program’s graduates to find high quality jobs. The program continues AccessCNY’s mission of innovation to meet the changing needs of Central New York and creating a community where all people belong.”
Community Services for Every1, Inc. President and CEO Mindy Cervoni said, “Community Services for Every1 is honored to participate in this innovative initiative to enhance employment outcomes for people with developmental disabilities. The demand and outlook for hospitality jobs in our region remain strong. This training will equally benefit aspiring employees and local employers looking to strengthen their workforce.”
Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. CEO Chris Long said, “We could not be more excited to partner with OPWDD to create innovative vocational training that will help to create sustainable employment opportunities those we support. We are so grateful for the support.”
Jawonio, Inc. CEO Randi Rios-Castro said, “Jawonio is truly honored to have been awarded the funding provided by OPWDD to provide retail training services. People with developmental disabilities are an essential part of our communities here in the Lower Hudson Valley Region and across New York State; and yet they have been underrepresented in the workforce for far too long. With Governor Hochul’s steadfast commitment to inclusivity, Jawonio can now empower individuals to acquire marketable skills that create pathways to success and fulfilling careers.”
AHRC NYC CEO Marco Damani said, “Researchers from Drexel University recently estimated that only 1.1 percent of working-age autistic adults who potentially need employment services are actually receiving them—leaving an estimated 1.98 million autistic people without the employment services that are associated with achievement of well-being. While these numbers may not be representative of the entire developmental disabilities population, there is clearly a need for more aggressive and progressive focus on optimizing employment and internship opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. AHRC NYC is proud to be a recipient of an OPWDD vocational training grant and is committed to partnering with NYS government to achieve full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace.”
Cerebral Palsy Associations of NYS President and CEO Mike Alvaro said, “We thank Governor Hochul for this critical funding, once again demonstrating this administration’s commitment to New Yorkers with developmental disabilities. Employment is a fundamental part of who we are and how we connect with our communities, and these grants not only affirm that we indeed are part of the NY community, but they also enable people with developmental disabilities to participate and be productive members of the workforce on a much broader basis than past opportunities allowed.”
SEPTEMBER 22, 2023 Albany, NY