WASHINGTON, October 30, 2014 – According to a report by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one in seven Americans, or 15 percent of the U.S. population, has a learning disability. A 2012 report from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that 41 percent of individuals ages 21 to 64 with a disability were employed in 2010, down from nearly 46 percent in 2005. Furthermore, while 69 percent of high school graduates with learning disabilities have goals of competitive employment, only 46 percent are able to obtain regular paid employment within two years of graduating, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD).
BroadFutures, an emerging Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization, is committed to serving this growing, underrepresented group of young adults with learning disabilities by using an innovative program designed to help combat these pressing issues. BroadFutures’ program employs a unique combination of holistic, individualized training and mentorship, coupled with paid internship opportunities.
“BroadFutures offers an innovative approach to youth transitions with learning disabilities,” says Mark Perriello, president, CEO, American Association of People with Disabilities. “This specialized program puts in place the tools and resources, coupled with personalized and creative influences, needed to make it in the workforce. Simply put, BroadFutures is unique and welcome in our space.”
Founded in August 2013 by Carolyn Jeppsen, Diana Eisenstat and Bradley Holmes, BroadFutures successfully completed its first of three pilot programs in August 2014. To promote openness and establish a strong presence, the pilot stage consists of three phases – the second phase occurring in January 2015, and the third in summer 2015.
“Very few of the successful existing workforce programs effectively address the transitional needs of young adults who have adequate cognitive skills and capabilities for the workplace but lack the organizational, attentive and social abilities to independently navigate employment,” says Carolyn Jeppsen, CEO, president, co-founder, BroadFutures. “That’s what BroadFutures is working to address.”
BroadFutures secures internship positions for a period of eight to 14 weeks, and focuses on social emotional skills and workplace preparedness. As a part of the program, BroadFutures also regularly incorporates stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation and cognitive exercise, in addition to implementing group sessions and drama as a medium for delivering workforce curriculum. The creative blend of influences fosters independence, self-advocacy and successful future employment for young adults.
“It’s important when working with students with disabilities to have that holistic type of approach,” says Raymond Hutchison, program manager, office of specialized instruction, District of Columbia Public Schools. “BroadFutures is doing a great job of incorporating both external and professional elements to promote independent self-advocacy.”
Five interns participated in BroadFutures’ inaugural pilot program, with three employer partners – AES Corporation, Arlington, Virginia, a global power company that owns and operates a diverse portfolio of electricity generation and distribution businesses, Griffin & Company, Inc., Washington, D.C., a public relations and marketing communications agency, and Inergix, McLean, Virginia, a diversified energy development and integration company.
At the conclusion of the summer pilot program, all participants, including interns, parents, employers, service providers and mentors, stated they would recommend the BroadFutures program. Employer partners felt interns were well-prepared and all interns successfully completed their internships and were given letters of recommendation.
For more information on how BroadFutures is creating an inclusive workforce for all individuals to have an equal opportunity to succeed, visit www.broadfutures.org.
Griffin & Company, Inc.
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