AbilITy Connection graduate shares his story at a recent "Road to Success" forum
What makes the AbilITy Connection successful? [return to top]
The following diagram shows you that the AbilITy Connection is successful due to a team effort by many.
What do we do? [return to top]
Some of the best-paying, most sought-after jobs today are in the field of information technology (computers). AbilITy Connection is a program of IndependenceFirst that helps match people with disabilities who show promise in this field with those desirable jobs.
The program was started in 1996. As the computer industry has grown and changed, so has the variety of jobs within the field, now known as information technology. The programs name uses an upper-case "I" and "T" to highlight Information Technology, while the word, "Ability" stresses the programs goal to help people make the most of their abilities, regardless of their disabilities or disadvantages.
Participants who show an interest and aptitude for computer skills are referred to the program by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). Students are matched with mentors, who are experienced professionals in the business community. The mentors give the students information about the types of skills that companies are looking for and offer them advice on where and how to obtain formal computer training. The AbilITy Connection program even offers financial assistance to help pay for training at local technical colleges and other schools.
In addition, mentors often arrange for students to complete internships, work experience or job shadowing at local companies. This gives students real, hands-on experience that can lead to permanent employment in the field.
Amber Anderson, AbilITy Connection Employment Consultant, receives valuable help from area business professionals, who volunteer countless hours to offer advice, planning, and mentoring.
An IndependenceFirst employee stated, "the program was actually started by professionals who had a definite need for trained, dedicated workers, and who suspected that there was an untapped source of good employees among people with disabilities. It has been a win-win situation. Businesses have gained valuable employees and among those who have successfully completed the program and found employment, the average hourly wage is $20 per hour."
Why do we do it? [return to top]
The AbilITy Connection program serves IndependenceFirst's overall mission of helping individuals with barriers to employment find meaningful work by providing valuable mentoring, advice, and internship opportunities to individuals with a strong interest in pursuing a career in the information technology field.