Anixter Center Establishes Inclusive Pathways Chicago: Healthcare project to Implement Two-Year Signature Employment Grant from Kessler Foundation
Anixter Center, a 100-year-old non-profit organization that provides an array of services and supports for people with disabilities and related challenges, has been awarded a two-year, $400,000 Signature Employment Grant from Kessler Foundation. It is part of $2.5 million in grants awarded by Kessler Foundation in 2018 to organizations across the U.S. to support initiatives that create and expand job training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Partners in the Inclusive Pathways Chicago: Healthcare project who will be implementing the ambitious agenda funded by the Kessler Foundation’s generous grant include Anixter Center, Safer Foundation, Southside Occupational Academy and two area health and hospital systems, Sinai Health System and University of Chicago Medicine. The required matching funding is provided by the Chicago Community Trust Disabilities Fund.
The Inclusive Pathways Chicago: Healthcare project has been designed to assist healthcare workforce employers in implementing equity, diversity, and inclusion strategies that will result in reducing barriers to employment and job retention for people with disabilities, including those with previous justice system involvement. It is built upon the idea that nonprofit partners are uniquely qualified to match job candidates with disabilities to employers seeking to hire and retain diverse, dedicated talent. Partners in this project will embed workforce services directly within the employer site and employment culture. By expanding the scope of traditional human resources functions through a menu of support services for employees with disabilities, and by serving as an in-house training and technical assistance arm, partners will address disability-related needs and reduce statutory barriers.
“The healthcare sector provides promising opportunities for the employment of people with disabilities,” stated Rebecca Clark, President, and CEO of Anixter Center. “With the generous support of Kessler Foundation and Chicago Community Trust Disabilities Fund, and the willingness of our visionary partners in this initiative, our program model of embedding disability services into the HR department of hospitals can produce lasting change in the hiring system of these employers as they strive to help support and improve the economic vitality of their surrounding communities,” she added.
There are more than 400,000 working-age people with disabilities in the Chicagoland area. People with disabilities have the lowest employment rates and highest poverty rates of any minority group. Additionally, evidence indicates that the justice system involved population is three times more likely to report having a disability. These individuals face significant barriers to employment. However, once they secure meaningful employment, their likelihood of recidivism drops dramatically.
“An important part of Sinai Health System’s mission is workforce development and providing employment and career opportunities to members of the community. Partnering with Anixter Center on Inclusive Pathways Chicago: Healthcare is a tremendous way to achieve our workforce development goals and create lasting change in our communities and organization,” stated John Figiel, System Director, Talent Management, Sinai Health System.
Following the completion of the demonstration model, collaborative relationships between educational, disability, and justice involved organizations will remain and serve as replicable examples to address the employment needs of the healthcare industry and other employment sectors.
“People living with disabilities are striving to work,” explained Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, senior vice president for grants and communications at Kessler Foundation. “Our research indicates more than 68% are currently working, looking for work, or have worked since the onset of their disability. By supporting the expansion of job training and by examining how to remove barriers to hiring and retaining people with disabilities who have prior justice system involvement; we can make real progress in expanding employment opportunities for those with disabilities.”
About the Lester and Rosalie Anixter Center
Lester and Rosalie Anixter Center’s 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. Incorporated in 1919, Anixter Center has adapted its mission and services over the years to address the evolving needs of people with disabilities living in the Chicago metropolitan area. In 1959, Anixter Center began providing services to educate and train adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Today, Anixter provides service to people in three program lines: Disability Services (Residential, Day and Employment), Behavioral Health Services (Residential and Counseling) and the Chicago Hearing Society Division, (Audiology, Interpreter and Social Services. ) For more information, visit anixter.org.
About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.
About The Chicago Community Trust Disabilities Fund
The Disabilities Fund of the Chicago Community Trust promotes the development of programs, policy and public action that expands the empowerment, equal opportunity, inclusion and participation of diverse persons with disabilities in the Chicago region. We accomplish this by partnering with and advising the Chicago Community Trust about disability inclusion and priorities for data-driven actionable solutions in the areas of employment, education, community inclusion, and technology. For more information, visit www.cct.org/disabilitiesfund.
The Chicago Community Trust
The Chicago Community Trust, our region’s community foundation, partners with donors to leverage their philanthropy in ways that transform lives and communities. For the past century, we have connected the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to nonprofit organizations working to improve metropolitan Chicago. Since our founding in 1915, the Trust has awarded over $2 billion in grant funding to more than 11,000 local nonprofit organizations- including more than $236 million in 2016. Our region is home to people passionate about their neighborhoods. People committed to making a difference. People divided by a legacy of segregation, separated by lines of class and race and opportunity-but there is much more that unites us than divides us. As the Trust begins our next century of service, we pledge to bridge these divisions and to champion the common good, creating a place where no one is left behind. To learn more about how the Trust has improved the quality of life in metropolitan Chicago, we invite you to visit our website at www.cct.org.
Pictured with the story:
Joshua Long, Principal, Southside Occupational Academy, Chicago Public Schools
Allie Gunderson, VP Disability Services, Anixter Center; Rebecca Clark, President and CEO, Anixter Center; Elizabeth Rahill, Senior Consultant, Talent Strategy, University of Chicago Medicine; Rosalie Gonzalez, Lead Account Executive II, Safer Foundation; John Figiel, System Director, Talent Management, Sinai Health System; Harry Alston, Vice President Strategic Planning & Development, Safer Foundation
Not pictured: Jamie Taradash, Director, Employment Services and Matthew McFarland, Director, Safer Foundation