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Employment program gets boost from Bank of America

The Arc of Delaware has been awarded a $20,000 grant from Bank of America in support of our employment offerings for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). This grant will enable us to expand our pre-employment services, as well as maintain the job coaching and follow-along support needed to ensure our clients’ success.

“The Arc of Delaware offers key resources to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, ensuring ample training and access to employment opportunities,” said Chip Rossi, President of Bank of America Delaware. “We look forward to seeing their employment program grow as they continue to connect individuals to career pathways, ultimately benefiting our entire community.”

The Issue

According to the 2020 Disability Compendium,1 of the 34,883 adults (ages 18-64) with cognitive disabilities living in the community in Delaware, only 34% are employed (vs. 78.9% for the same age group without disabilities).

Many barriers, such as insufficient vocational training/planning and low expectations, lead to people with IDD being unemployed or underemployed, hindering the opportunity for financial stability.

In addition, few employed people with IDD have opportunities to advance, explore new possibilities, or, in their later years, retire. Unrealistically low limits on assets and earnings make people fear losing vital public benefits if they work too many hours or earn too much money. Lack of related services (such as transportation) or accommodations (such as assistive technology) can also hinder success.

High unemployment rates lead to below average incomes and a compromised standard of living. Conversely, employment provides financial stability, community integration, enhanced self-esteem and a daily sense of purpose.

The Arc’s Position

People with IDD can be employed in the community alongside people without disabilities and earn competitive wages. They should be supported to make informed choices about their work and careers and have the resources to seek, obtain, and be successful in community employment.

Our Impact

The Arc of Delaware is committed to expanding employment of adults with IDD. Through our Employment program, we work closely with the state’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDDS) to identify jobs in the community best suited to individuals. Based on skills, ability levels and choice, these jobs may be full-time or part-time, permanent or temporary.

In all cases, we provide the supports needed for individuals to succeed, such as job coaching, goal setting and soft skills improvement. We also help identify and pursue options in the community, such as internships or volunteer positions, for individuals who need help building the skills that lead to employment.

Our Employment program receives about 30 new referrals a year and supports about 150 people year-round in diverse work settings such as Bank of America, Wal-Mart, Astra-Zeneca, Acme Markets and the State of Delaware. Employment retention at this point averages 8 years, with some clients reaching 20 years or more.

We are proud of our success rate, which is a direct outcome of the intensive, individualized nature of our services. Employers know that The Arc is highly responsive when problems arise, and that they can depend on our staff to provide effective interventions when required.

“As our Employment program grows in popularity, so does the challenge to keep up with the demand,” said Susannah Eaton-Ryan, interim executive director of The Arc of Delaware. “We really appreciate Bank of America’s generous award and continued support of the community.”

Thank You, Bank of America!

With this benevolent support, The Arc of Delaware can continue to drive employment opportunity and improve economic mobility for people with IDD in Delaware. The grant is part of Bank of America’s philanthropic giving efforts in local communities. Awardees were selected for their commitment to addressing basic needs and workforce development for individuals and families, in particular during the coronavirus pandemic. Learn more at about.bankofamerica.com, and connect with them on Twitter (@BofA_News).