September 30, 2014
The Viscardi Center, a network of non-profit organizations providing a lifespan of services that educate, employ and empower children and adults with disabilities, was awarded a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). The cooperative agreement calls for The Viscardi Center to operate a national employer technical assistance center that will open up new employment opportunities for people with disabilities by increasing the commitment and capacity of employers to recruit, hire, retain and advance this all too often untapped talent pool.
“In a time when there is heightened awareness of the need to drive a change in hiring practices to improve the labor force participation rate of people with disabilities, this cooperative agreement gives The Viscardi Center and its consortium partners the opportunity to share our extensive knowledge and expertise to support ODEP’s mission,” said John D. Kemp, President and CEO of The Viscardi Center. “Only by increasing employment opportunities, and providing companies with the resources they need to access, appreciate and assimilate these qualified professionals into their workforces, will we reach our goal of getting every person with a disability who wants to work a job.”
The purpose of the technical assistance center is to:
• Analyze employer research, policies and practices related to disability employment;
• Research effective employer engagement strategies;
• Develop and provide outreach and technical assistance to targeted employers, such as federal agencies,
federal contractors, small business and state government, in an effort to diversify workforces.
“At ODEP, we work to ensure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to contribute their skills and talents not only for their benefit, but also for the benefit of society as a whole,” said Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy. “This center will help employers understand these benefits and get them the information and tools they need to successfully employ people with disabilities.”
The Viscardi Center will receive $1.84 million to lead a collaborative of organizations to include: the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL); U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN); George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development, Center for Applied Developmental Science and Neuroeducation (GSEHD); Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for Advanced Communications Policy (CACP); Georgia Institute of Technology’s Scheller College of Business; World Institute on Disability (WID); the Center for the Study and Advancement of Disability Policy (CSADP); Concepts Communications; and DiversityInc.
The timing of the award coincides with National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) which begins October 1. The cooperative agreement was awarded as a result of a competitive process. The initial award is for a 12-month period of performance with four option years, based on availability of funding.
Founded by Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., who served as disability advisor to eight U.S. Presidents and became one of the world’s leading advocates, The Viscardi Center provides Pre-K through High School education, school-to-work transition services, vocational training, career counseling and employment placement, assistive technology, adapted driver education and workforce diversification assistance to children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities and businesses. A global leader, it employs more than 300 professionals, including experts in education, human resources and technology.