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Our Ability Alliance forms history-making business network to help people with disabilities find employment in New York State
The Our Ability Alliance has created the New York Business Leadership Network, a statewide network of businesses interested in employing people with disabilities. The NYBLN will serve people with developmental, intellectual, learning and physical disabilities, along with veterans with disabilities.
The NYBLN was formed in response to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2014 executive order establishing the Employment First Commission to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities in New York. In the executive order, there was a call for 100 businesses to commit to formal policies to hire people with disabilities as part of their diversity strategy.
For the past five years, Our Ability Alliance has worked with Fortune 500 businesses on implementing employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Our Ability has assisted in creating internships, jobs and corporate education through disability etiquette and sensitivity training. Our Ability also has its own web portal, Our Ability Connect, which serves as a technological bridge for people with disabilities and businesses to connect.
In 2014, the White House named Our Ability’s John Robinson one of ten national Disability Employment Champions of Change. Our Ability is managed by people with disabilities to assist in employment outcomes for people with disabilities, and is uniquely positioned to lead the NYBLN effort in New York State. The NYBLN will assist New York businesses in finding and employing a dedicated, educated and loyal workforce. At the same time, students with disabilities on state campuses will benefit by networking with NYBLN members on a regular basis.
“The New York Business Leadership Network is the culmination of our work around New York State,” said John Robinson, Managing Partner of the Our Ability Alliance. “In the past five years, we have developed relationships with communities of people with disabilities around the state. We have people with disabilities who have worked for over 50 years in the business community. Our goal is to put our collective experience together and bridge the employment gap for people with disabilities in New York State.”
By attracting business members, educating them about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities, and publicly recognizing their commitment to disability diversity in the workforce, the NYBLN can positively impact employment rates for New Yorkers who are so often unemployed or underemployed, says Robinson. According to New York State, the employment rate for people with a disability in New York is 31.2%. In comparison, New Yorkers without disabilities are employed at a rate of 72%. The poverty rate in New York State for people with disabilities is nearly twice the amount of the non-disabled population.
Several prominent New York State businesses are committing their time and expertise to the NYBLN endeavor. Price Chopper/Market 32, Anthem Healthcare, Realty USA, State Employee Federal Credit Union, Barclays, City Mouse and SRI Fire Sprinkler have agreed to serve on the steering committee of the new NYBLN.
“Providing an inclusive environment for our teammates has played such a significant role in both our value system and strategy as a company,” said Mike Miller, Vice President of Human Resources at Price Chopper/Market 32. “The forming of the New York Business Leadership Network will be a catalyst for continued efforts in this area, with the hope of results beyond measure. Perhaps the greatest benefit will be our ability to band together as a group of businesses, but more importantly as one large community. As such we will work together to create opportunities to educate as many individuals and organizations as possible on how we must continue to raise awareness about employing individuals with disabilities.”
In early January, the NYBLN will begin to reach out across New York State to engage business connections and friends in the disability community. Its message will be clear–communities across New York are stronger when people with disabilities have opportunities to contribute to the workforce.
“NYSARC is a proud of the contributions that people who have developmental disabilities make to the workforce and their communities,” said Steve Kroll, Executive Director, NYSARC, Inc. “Our partnership with Our Ability Alliance will create a strong network of employers who view NYBLN as an important support to those motivated job seekers who have not yet found meaningful employment opportunities.”
Our Ability Alliance is the 501c3 organization for Our Ability, Inc., a leading national disability organization which serves as a bridge to employment for people with disabilities around New York State. Our Ability helps people see beyond differences; to see the value we all hold inside ourselves. Born a congenital amputee, John Robinson founded Our Ability as a bridge between employment and the individual with a disability. Our goal is to mentor people in a way most meaningful in today’s world. Our Ability leads through speaking, disability sensitivity, corporate recruiting, our annual 370-mile Journey Along the Erie Canal hand-cycle trek and our employment portal Our Ability Connect.