Last year, 163 individuals participated in UCP of Greater Cleveland’s Community Employment Program developing work skills at either supported or independent work sites throughout Northeast Ohio. As the State of Ohio begins to prioritize community-based employment opportunities for adults with disabilities through the Employment First Initiative, UCP’s partnerships with businesses become increasingly important. An employer’s understanding of the value that individuals with disabilities bring to their workforce is also significant.
This year, PNC Bank was awarded UCP of Greater Cleveland’s Employer of the Year Award. Not only do they partner with UCP of Greater Cleveland as donors, but also as an employment partner. The Employer of the Year Award is given each year to a company who shows leadership in hiring individuals with disabilities.
The PNC supported employment site was established in 2004, and it is evident PNC has made a genuine commitment to encourage the integration of diversity and inclusion into all PNC business practices. Client employees are included in all aspects of the departments where they work and are truly integrated, including department meetings (which they call “huddles”), as well as social events like potlucks and office celebrations.
PNC managers are great at communicating with the UCP site supervisor and employees. They have been patient and willing to brainstorm ideas to modify jobs. They have expanded work opportunities at various sites and provided a broad spectrum of experiences for UCP’s client employees. PNC currently has six UCP client associates working in several different departments including check processing, trust remittance, statement prep, data entry, mail room and lockbox verification.
As a business partner, PNC has made a commitment to UCP and the community to help build awareness for hiring individuals with disabilities and the community employment program at UCP of Greater Cleveland. Last year Paul Clark, PNC’s Regional President, spent one of his evenings speaking on UCP’s and PNC’s behalf to a gathering of employers considering hiring of individuals with disabilities.
PNC’s wonderfully successful supported employment site would never have begun without the initial championing and persistence of PNC Recruitment Officer Kathy Dorazio, as well as all of the wonderful PNC staff, UCP staff and clients along the way. It is UCP’s hope that as we attempt to employ many more clients in the community, that others can learn from the actions and the integrity of PNC.