Anixter Center Partners with Mayor Lightfoot, Alderman Matt O’Shea, Special Olympics Chicago/Special Children’s Charities, and City Colleges of Chicago to Launch Groundbreaking Initiative

Inclusive Pathways After 22 will connect young adults with developmental disabilities to community resources for education, employment, and enrichment opportunities.

Anixter Center is joining forces with Special Olympics Chicago/Special Children’s Charities, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Alderman Matt O’Shea, and City Colleges of Chicago to launch the After 22 project. After 22 is a trailblazing initiative that links Chicagoans with developmental disabilities to educational and career opportunities. Now, young adults with developmental disabilities in Chicago will have access to the resources they need to succeed.

Currently, when those with developmental disabilities age out of the Chicago public school system, they must wait an average of 5 years before receiving funding to access vital services like education, career, and enrichment opportunities. This sudden cutoff of services is like a cliff: young adults with developmental disabilities lack the resources they need to fully participate in their communities. After 22 not only addresses the cliff, but it also revolutionizes disability supports and services.

After 22 puts the individual’s needs and interests at the forefront: whether it’s college courses, a job, or community involvement, After 22 puts the supports in place for each student to forge their own path. Each partner brings unique value to After 22, which makes the initiative unlike any other in the State of Illinois. Daley College and Anixter Center are creating customized educational plans focused on communication strategies, self-advocacy, and navigating institutions. Anixter Center’s strong network of employment partners will connect individuals to meaningful jobs and internships.

“After 22 is the missing piece that equalizes the pathway for young adults with developmental disabilities to access college and thrive,” said Rebecca Clark, President and CEO at Anixter Center. “This historic step bridges the gap, creating opportunities for students to secure meaningful work, positively engage in, and contribute to their communities. I believe After 22 will change the lives of the people we serve and our Chicago neighbors for years to come.”

“What I have seen through my work with Special Olympics Chicago is that the passion in these individuals to learn and to be fully active members of their communities doesn’t stop when they turn 22,” said Alderman Matt O’Shea (19th Ward), Past President of the Board of Special Olympics Chicago. “Now they can and will have access to the education, life skills, and job training opportunities they crave because of the support of Mayor Lightfoot and our network of partners.”

City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Juan Salgado said, “As Chicago’s community college system, City Colleges is responsive to the needs of our community. After 22 is a unique opportunity that will allow us to prepare developmentally disabled Chicagoans to contribute their abundant talents to our neighborhoods and economy.”

This year, Anixter Center will match 10 participants to jobs or internships at community employment partners, ensuring students have integrated, competitive job opportunities. In conjunction, employers will get the support they need to ensure success and retention for these employees.

We’re thrilled to be part of this groundbreaking initiative. Together, we’re building a Chicago where we all belong.

About Anixter Center

Lester and Rosalie Anixter Center (Anixter Center) is an innovative not-for-profit, community-based organization that serves people throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. At Anixter Center we believe Inclusion means all – and disability is not the exception. It is a simple philosophy rooted in social change that drives human, community, and business results. Our mission is to provide an array of services and supports for people with disabilities and related challenges to live, learn, work, and play in the community. Community facing, universal practices that benefit everyone, and a core belief in partnerships drive our vision to ensure we have inclusive communities where all people thrive. For more information about Anixter Center, visit www.anixter.org or join us on Facebook (Anixter Center) or Instagram (@AnixterCenter).

For questions about After 22, contact Amanda Hedberg at ahedberg@anixter.org.