U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) Add Us in California Consortium

Situational Analysis

Add Us In is an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). The initiative is designed to identify and develop strategies to increase employment opportunities within the small business community for individuals with disabilities, especially from historically-excluded communities. Included within the small business community are targeted businesses that are owned and operated by people of color; economically disadvantaged; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals; women, veterans and people with disabilities.

Small business is the engine of U.S. economic growth, and data on minority business growth clearly shows that minority-owned and operated firms are a significant contributor to the long-term health of the U.S. economy. Over the past 10 years, minority-owned businesses grew at approximately double the rate of all firms in the U.S. economy. If one considers growth of additional targeted businesses such as those owned and operated by women or individuals with disabilities, the influence of these businesses is even greater.

Given this level of growth in the small business community, one of the high-priority goals of the Add Us In Initiative is to create business engagement models that can be replicated on a national scale. Related to this goal is the companion goal of building national and local networks of experts skilled in connecting small employers with the underutilized talent pool that is people with disabilities.

California Consortium Partners

World Institute on Disability (WID) serves as Consortium program director, research analyst, fiscal agent and disability-serving organization. Initial Consortium members include: National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), business outreach ambassador and gateway to diverse chambers of commerce and minority-owned businesses; representing interests of more than 1.4 million LGBT-owned U.S. businesses; California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC) Youth Organizing Disabled & Proud and Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD), youth-serving partners, with extensive network of 650 colleges and universities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and 600 employers; California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), workforce partner assisting eligible Californians with disabilities to obtain and retain employment; EIN SOF Communications, Inc. (EIN SOF), a woman-owned small business serves as the Consortium’s communications and outreach consultant.

Winning Model

Our model develops, implements and evaluates a program to engage national minority-focused small business associations with peer-to-peer discussions and education to better understand rationale and process for hiring youth and vets with disabilities; captures COSD model to link employers, recent grads, and college students with disabilities to create employment opportunities and adapt and expand it to a model embraced and sponsored by the small and diverse business community.

A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities Blueprint for Governors; 2012-2013 Chair’s Initiative; National Governors Association

A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities Blueprint for Governors; 2012-2013 Chair’s Initiative; National Governors Association

California Consortium Grant Goals and Results

The Consortium’s focus on California small businesses, obtained commitments to participate in an orientation conducted by NGLCC, a prerequisite to participating in employment/recruiting event(s) in year two and three of the grant. The Consortium offers “360 degree structural support” (organizational readiness). Four orientations entitled, Sharpen Your Competitive Edge: Disability Inclusion Business Imperative, were delivered to small businesses seeking interns with disabilities in Summer 2013 that resulted in 10 interns with one converted to a part-time employee so she can finish her college education. The CA Consortium worked with employers to create a stipend for each intern and was the only Add Us In Consortium featured in the National Governor’s Association Blueprint, Creating a Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities (page 18)

Preparation of this item was funded by the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U. S. Department of Labor, Grant Number: OD-22554-11-75-4-6.  This document does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U. S. Department of Labor, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U. S. government.