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The Arc and Walmart Foundation Renew Commitment to Providing Community-Based Employment for People With Disabilities

Washington, DC – The Arc’s employment program, The Arc@Work, is pleased to announce it has received a $325,000, one-year grant from the Walmart Foundation. This funding will be dedicated toward scaling the programs that The Arc@Work and Walmart have created over the past two years to train and place people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in competitive, integrated employment within their communities.

Employment rates for people with disabilities – especially people with IDD – are critically low compared to people without disabilities. The US Census Bureau’s American Communities Survey (2015) estimates that people with any disability or a cognitive disability are employed at much lower rates (34.3% and 24.8% respectively) than those without disabilities (73.6%). Additionally, the National Core Indicators Survey of 2015-2016 reported that 19% of people with IDD in the workforce reported having a paid job in the community.

In response to these dire statistics, through funding from the Walmart Foundation, The Arc@Work has built a successful partnership in working with local chapters of The Arc to provide competitive and community-based employment opportunities and strengthening chapters’ relationships with local businesses since 2016. To do this, The Arc@Work provides technical assistance and an average sub-grant award of $10,000 to chapters of The Arc located across the country that provide community-based employment opportunities.

Over this two-year span, the Walmart Foundation has supported The Arc@Work and chapters of The Arc located across the country in training more than 2,000 individuals and placing more than 800 individuals into competitive and community-based jobs. Additionally, participating chapters of The Arc have forged relationships with nearly 500 local and regional employers to provide trained job candidates and staff training on creating inclusive work environments. This new round of funding will allow for The Arc@Work and chapters of The Arc to achieve even greater impact over the next year.

“For far too long, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been relegated to the margins of the working world. Along with private initiatives, new government regulations promise to dramatically increase the number of people with disabilities placed alongside of people without disabilities in integrated, competitive environments. The support from the Walmart Foundation will allow The Arc to continue to transform the existing pool of talented candidates with disabilities into productive employees,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

The Arc advocates for and serves people wit­­h intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 650 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with IDD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

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The Arc and Walmart Foundation: A Successful Year Assisting People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Find Jobs in the Community

A year ago, The Arc announced the exciting news that it had been awarded $245,000 by the Walmart Foundation to support workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to enter the workforce. The Arc@Work, The Arc’s employment program, quickly got to work with chapters from around the country to make a dent in the unemployment rate for people with IDD, one job placement at a time.

Shortly after acquiring the grant, The Arc awarded 16 of its chapters subgrants. Each grantee was then charged with developing innovative programs that place job-seekers with IDD in competitive, integrated employment within their communities. Chapters included were UCP Seguin (IL); The Arc of the Midlands (SC); The Arc of Spokane (WA); The Arc of Anchorage (AK); The Arc of Montgomery County (MD); The Arc of El Paso (TX); The Arc of Monroe County (NY); St. Louis Arc (MO); The Arc of Chester County (PA); Berkshire County Arc (MA); Star, Inc. (CT); The Arc of North Carolina (NC); The Arc Davidson County and Greater Nashville (TN); VersAbility (VA); The Arc of Bristol County (MA); and ADEC (IN). By the end of the grant cycle, The Arc had reached and even surpassed many of the grant’s objectives. As of September 2017, nearly 480 workers with disabilities had secured employment at nearly 360 companies under the program. Additionally, nearly 1,240 individuals with IDD had undergone training to better prepare them to enter the workforce. Several success stories emerged as the year progressed, including this one about a self-advocate named Danielle from The Arc of Monroe County in Rochester, New York:

When Danielle first began employment services, she exhibited low self-confidence. And throughout the job development process, Danielle struggled with social interactions ranging from phone calls to interviews. As she experienced her first career fair, job interview, and informal meetings with potential employers, her confidence started to grow.

Eventually Danielle received a call for an interview at a local senior facility that would result in a pivotal change in her life’s course. The day before she was scheduled to interview, Danielle and her employment specialist practiced interview questions. The following day, Danielle was stellar during the interview process and performed the best she ever had! Her employment specialist knew when they walked out of the building that she would be offered the job. Danielle was able to engage the interviewer in a funny story and her demeanor and the content of her answers were on point. The following week Danielle was offered a job!

Danielle has been working at the senior facility now for 10 months. Her transformation has been incredible. In late June, Danielle’s astounding professional and personal growth was recognized at an awards ceremony sponsored by The Arc of Monroe County.

Based on this year’s achievement, The Arc was awarded an additional round of funding this past spring. With this support, The Arc hopes to build upon the success it began in 2016.

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Helping Dreams Come True While Helping the Environment

By Caleb Wilson, Vocational Director, The Arc of Clarion and Venango Counties Inc.

A valuable lesson we have learned through our efforts of connecting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to community-based employment opportunities is that the idea of creating a business around someone’s interests and abilities is not commonplace. Some individuals have always dreamed of being their own boss and owning their own business. Keeping that in mind, The Arc of Clarion and Venango Counties started assisting individuals in creating their “Dream Job” of owning their own business.

The Arc and Walmart Foundation’s eXplore eRecycling Initiative has made it possible for us to assist a small group of individuals experiencing disabilities with starting a business that helps residents and community businesses/organizations recycle their old electronics in an environmentally sound way. From the development of the business plan and policies, The Arc eRecycling of Clarion and Venango Counties has truly been an effort led by these employees.

To comply with Pennsylvania’s Covered Device Act, we have held two free e-waste drop off days in both Clarion and Venango Counties. These events brought in over 4,000 pounds of old electronics that do not work or that people simply do not wish to own anymore.   Additionally, several local city offices have started referring their residents to The Arc eRecycling for their needs and this has given us the opportunity to recycle hundreds of computer monitors and televisions. With a motto of “We take anything with a plug” each day customers have the ability to drop off any electronic. In order to meet the interests of some employees, The Arc eRecycling of Clarion and Venango Counties started creating catalogs to resell old electronics that are still in working condition. This not only allows the business to help the environment but to help individuals find reasonable priced electronics.

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The Arc Launches “eXplore eRecycling” Sustainability Initiative

Washington, DC – The Arc of the United States is launching its “eXplore eRecycling” initiative, funded by a $465,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation. Through the initiative, 10 chapters of The Arc will be awarded funds to help develop or enhance electronic waste management programs that offer community-based employment opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

“The eXplore eRecycling initiative is a wonderful chance to show how individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities can excel in cutting edge jobs while earning competitive salaries. By bringing together the disability and the e-recycling communities, we hope to create more employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

Each sub-grantee will be awarded a grant to start or expand their electronic waste recycling program. Throughout the program, sub-grantees will engage in peer learning and network with one another. The peer learning aspect of this grant will allow sub-grantees to share expertise and knowledge regarding topics pertinent to e-recycling and employment with each other. They will also have the unique opportunity to interact with members of an Expert Advisory Committee made up of leaders from the e-recycling, environmental, disability, and business fields. These experts will provide their knowledge and perspectives to identify practice and policy recommendations that further electronic waste conservation efforts and competitive employment outcomes for people with IDD.

Members of the Expert Advisory Committee work for a variety of organizations including: National Youth Leadership Network, University of Maine’s Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies, Disability Rights New Jersey, University of Vermont-Center on Disability and Community Inclusion, Basel Action Network, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc., Good360, Arc Thrift Stores, National Center for Electronics Recycling, Northeast Recycling Center, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities, and NISH.

The sub-grantees are listed below in alphabetical order:

  • AHRC Nassau – Long Island, NY
  • Genesee ARC – Batavia, NY
  • Kreider Services – Dixon, IL
  • Seneca Cayuga ARC – Waterloo, NY
  • SouthStar Services – Chicago Heights, IL
  • The Arc of Clarion and Venango Counties – Clarion, PA
  • The Arc of Greater Haverhill-Newburyport – Haverhill, MA
  • The Arc of Hamilton County – Chattanooga, TN
  • The Arc of Madison County – Huntsville, AL
  • The Arc of the Virginia Peninsula, Inc. – Hampton, VA
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Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month Q&A With Lynell Tucker

This month, The Arc’s blog will feature a Q & A with members of The Arc’s national office staff to help raise awareness of issues important to the IDD community during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Lynell Tucker is the program manager for The Arc’s School-to-Community Transition Program funded by the Walmart Foundation. The program supports chapters of The Arc in improving outcomes for young adults transitioning to life beyond high school.

Q. Lynell, you are deeply involved in The Arc’s School-to-Community Transition program funded by the Walmart Foundation. Help us raise some awareness about transition issues for the IDD community during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities when they finish high school and have to transition to post-secondary education, employment or life in the community?

“Youth with IDD have a world of opportunity open to them.”

A. The biggest challenge seems to be for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to know what they want to do after high school. Youth with IDD have a world of opportunity open to them; however, they may not always know that. We are seeing that there is a heavy focus on getting on waiting lists, applying for the adult service system, and making sure that they are able to access the necessary services and supports once they graduate. These are all vital aspects of transitioning into adult life; however, just as important is what one wants to do with their life – their hopes and dreams. Students and youth participating in the School-to-Community Transition Initiative are discovering for themselves what interests them. Do they want to go to college? Work in the community? Live independently, and so much more? The participating chapters of The Arc who are implementing transition programs are facilitating this discovery through the use of life planning tools. Students are overcoming the challenges by determining their future for themselves.

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The Arc Makes a Statement on Employment

Late last week, The Arc submitted a formal statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) to be recorded as testimony in the record of the hearings held to draw attention to the critical issues of employment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

We took this opportunity to go on record with The Arc’s position that people with IDD have a fundamental moral, civil and constitutional right to be fully included and actively participate in all aspects of society, including having the opportunity to be competitively employed. We pointed out the dismal statistics concerning the state of employment of working age adults with IDD and urged specific reform in several key areas of public policy. We highlighted the work The Arc is doing to identify and promote best practices in helping people with IDD become successfully employed through programs such as School-to-Community Transition funded by a grant from the Walmart Foundation. And we advocated for forceful, coordinated efforts to build up opportunities for integrated community employment.

We were grateful for this opportunity to be heard by our Congressional leaders and we urge them to take our advice. But our voice becomes louder and stronger when joined by our supporters on the grassroots level, so we encourage you to read the full statement, find out more about the issues at hand and take every opportunity to let your elected officials and community leaders know you support full inclusion for people with IDD, including but not limited to opportunities for competitive employment.

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The Arc of the United States Announces 45 Sub‐Grant Awards for Transitioning Youth From School to Adult Life, Funded by the Walmart Foundation

Washington, D.C. – Thanks to a $3 million grant from the Walmart Foundation, The Arc of the United States (The Arc) is awarding grants to 45 local chapters of The Arc across the U.S. in support of a new initiative designed to help youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

These sub‐grants are being awarded as part of the Walmart Foundation School‐to‐Community Transition Project. The project aims to increase transition outcomes and to build inclusion and involvement of youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities in independent living, employment, post‐secondary education or vocational training, and community, social, and civic affairs.

“The sub‐grants for the Walmart Foundation School‐to‐Community Transition represent dynamic, new, and innovative projects of chapters of The Arc. They will set a high standard in best practices for youth to adult transition initiatives for years to come,” said Peter V. Berns, Chief Executive Officer of The Arc.

“The Walmart Foundation is committed to improving the lives of people with disabilities and ensuring they have opportunities to live better,” said Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation. “Our recent grant to The Arc reinforces our commitment by supporting programs of The Arc across America.”

The following chapters of The Arc are recipients of these sub‐grants:

Arc Chapter/Affiliate State Executive Director / CEO
The Arc of Shelby Co. AL Karen H. Stokes
The Arc of Southeast Los Angeles Co. CA Kevin P. MacDonald
The Arc of San Francisco CA Timothy Hornbecker
The Arc of Ventura Co. CA Fred Robinson
The Arc of Colorado CO Marijo Rymer
WeCAHR CT Shirley Ricart
STAR, Inc. CT Katie Banzhaf
The Arc of the District of Columbia DC Mary Lou Meccariello
The Arc of Jacksonville FL Jim Whittaker
The Arc in Hawaii HI Michael Tamanha
The Arc of Rock Island County IL Kyle Rick
Community Support Services IL Gaye Preston
Seguin Services IL John Voit
Achieva Resources IN Dan Stewart
Evansville Arc IN Deidra R. Conner
The Arc of Kentucky KY Patty Dempsey
The Arc of Greater New Orleans LA Cliff Doescher
The Arc of Baton Rouge LA Barry Meyer
The Arc of Massachusetts MA Leo V. Sarkissian
Northeast Arc MA Gerard L. McCarthy
The Arc of Frederick Co. MD Joanna Pierson
The Arc of Prince George’s Co. MD Jack Ramsey
The Arc Downriver MI Kevin P. McGuckin
The Arc of Kent Co. MI Tammy Finn
The Arc of Northwest Wayne Co. MI Christine A. Lerchen
The Arc of the Greater Twin Cities MN Kim Keprios
The Arc of St. Louis MO Kathy Meath
The Arc of Mississippi MS Matt Nalker
The Arc of Haywood County NC Holly Lemieux
The Arc of Wake Co. NC Steven R. Strom
The Arc of Nebraska NE Marla Fischer‐Lempke
The Arc of Gloucester NJ Ana Rivera
The Arc of Monmouth NJ Mary Scott
The Arc of New Mexico NM Randy Costales
AHRC – New York City NY Michael Goldfarb
NYSARC ‐ Rensselaer NY Hanns Meissner
NYSARC – The Arc of Oneida‐Lewis NY Angela Z. VanDerhoof
The Arc of Oregon OR Marcie Ingledue
The Arc of Philadelphia PA Bruce Hulick
The Arc of York Co. PA Gregory D. Knox
The Arc of Tennessee TN Carries Hobbs Guiden
The Arc of Davidson Co. TN Norman Tenenbaum
The Arc of Northern Virginia VA Nancy Mercer
The Arc of Washington State WA Sue Elliott
The Arc of Clark Co. WA Jesse L. Dunn