Thriving in the Workplace–and in Life
The Customized employment pilot program launched by BBI’s Southeast Technical Assistance and Continuing Education Center, based in Atlanta, has transformed the lives of young adults with significant disabilities. Inside Hinds Community College’s main library, near Jackson, Mississippi, Kieffer Krichbaum pores through hundreds of boxes filled with historical photographs, books, newspaper clippings, and more that were packed away for decades. Kieffer, 21, has meticulously organized the college’s archives during the past year.
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Supporting the Spirit of Inclusive Entrepreneurship
In the Inclusive Entrepreneurship Consulting course, co-created by BBI, students assist entrepreneurs with disabilities to launch their own businesses. Rich Settembre is the CEO of Way Cool Product Company. He’s also the chief financial officer, assembly technician, and the marketing department. As with many entrepreneurs, Settembre has worked tirelessly on developing his products—high-efficiency tools that remove snow, water, and sludge—and plays many roles to bring his creation to the marketplace.
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Nothing stops Jerry Robinson. Nothing. After graduating as salutatorian in college and landing a job with a global financial company, Robinson continues to do what he knows best—shatter barriers. The budding scholar, born with cerebral palsy, is now pursuing a doctoral degree at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) and conducting research with the BBI team. It’s an incredible feat for someone who nearly died at birth.
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Improving Services for Abused Women with Disabilities
Project EMERGE has been instrumental in the creation of practical solutions to the unique challenges faced by women with disabilities and Deaf women: they not only experience abuse at vastly disproportionate numbers, but they also encounter barriers to seeking assistance. Project EMERGE—a Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) collaboration with Vera House, working to end domestic and sexual violence, and ARISE, creating a fair and just community in which everyone can fully participate—improves services for women with disabilities and Deaf individuals who may also be victims of domestic and/or sexual violence. The Project EMERGE team is working with other community partners, including the Syracuse Police Department, to create policy and best practices within their organizations.
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Entrepreneur’s Business Takes Flight
Start-Up NY/Inclusive Entrepreneurship, a first-of-its kind program, has assisted more than 60 people with disabilities turn business ideas into reality. The program has been so successful that it’s being used as a model in Manhattan and other areas. Linda Erb’s love of flying turned into a 20-year career as an international flight attendant with American Airlines. But, a September 2007 accident grounded Erb’s career in the air, altering the course of her life.
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Bouncing Back from a Life of Desperation
To develop a pathway to sustainable employment, Real JOBS NY provides a unique support system for its participants, focusing on individually tailored plans to meet the specific needs of each client. One of the clearest measures of the program’s success comes in the recent employment figures. Among those enrolled in Real JOBS NY during the 2009-2010 period, 64 percent were employed at least three months after being placed in a job. The national average for similar programs is only nine percent.
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Achieving the American Dream
Jeremy Pratt and thousands of other individuals across New York are building financial security, thanks to an unprecedented statewide initiative spearheaded by BBI and the United Way of New York State. As Jeremy Pratt blends the techniques of his favorite artists—Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh—to create his own masterpiece inside a Buffalo, New York, art gallery, he also envisions the day when he can walk into a home of his own. For Pratt, a self-employed artist with a learning disability, achieving the American Dream seemed unattainable just a few years ago.