OCTOBER 17, 2017, ANCHORAGE, ALASKA – Earlier this year, The Arc of the United States received a $240,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation. Since that time, The Arc re-granted some of those dollars to several of its chapters, including The Arc of Anchorage. Now, The Arc of Anchorage is thrilled to announce it has been selected to receive $10,000 of the total grant. This funding will be used to encourage and support workers who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to enter the local workforce. Current research indicates that only 15% of people with I/DD are employed. However, with the right supports, many people with I/DD can build a career alongside their peers without disabilities.
“The Arc of Anchorage’s Supported Employment Services program has been recognized nationally for best practices in serving Alaskans and connecting them to local employers. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue our work and appreciate the support from the Walmart Foundation,” said Barbara Rodriguez-Rath, who serves at the organization’s chief executive officer. “We are excited for this boost to SES programming that enables us to continue providing high-quality services for the individuals and the employers we work with 365 days a year.”
The Arc’s national employment initiative, The Arc@Work, connects organizations with people and services that increase the diversity, productivity, and quality of their overall workforce. In 2016, with initial funding from the Walmart Foundation, The Arc@Work partnered with 16 chapters of The Arc to connect employers with talented employees with I/DD. Overall, these chapters were able to place 400 individuals into jobs, while 15 states and more than 1,700 employers were engaged in outreach. With this support, The Arc of Anchorage plans to continue job training and employer matches while boosting its summer youth employment program for teens and creating more opportunities in the coffee/barista and food service industries.
The year also produced many success stories, such as a great employee-employer match at the Alaska Rock Gym and Bryan, an individual enrolled with The Arc’s Supported Employment Services program. Bryan currently works five days per week at The Alaska Rock Gym. This past year, the Alaska Rock Gym moved to a large new building with more advanced and newer equipment. Through the physical move and a variety of adjustments to his daily work schedule, Bryan has grown as an employee. Working in tandem with his job coach and his colleagues at The Alaska Rock Gym, he continues to challenge himself in adapting to these changes. With support from his supervisor and job coach, Bryan discovers new ways to complete his daily routine.
The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), 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 I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.
Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.