March 22, 2011

by: Renee Canfield

UCP Partners with Cleveland Bridge Builders to Enhance Community Employment Programming

UCP is proud to announce a partnership with Cleveland Bridge Builders, a program of the Cleveland Leadership Center that matches nonprofit organizations with rising leaders from area businesses with diverse backgrounds to provide expertise, support and leadership for specific projects. For the past several months, a group of seven individuals from a variety of business sectors has worked with the Community Employment Program to enhance partnerships with the Northeast Ohio corporate community.

Individuals with disabilities cross all lines of age, gender, race, ethnicity and socio-economic status. In Cuyahoga County, where 15% of persons over the age of five have one or more disabilities, there are more individuals accessing the workforce each year. The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that employers take into account the talents and qualification of every individual, and therefore the workforce is increasingly diverse. Employers must not only take into account legal repercussions and the abilities of each employee/potential employee, but also the impact that every person has upon workforce dynamics, morale and productivity. UCP’s Disability Awareness Training has been shown to have far-reaching benefits for each of these factors. Furthermore, Community Employment Programming for individuals with disabilities connects qualified individuals with disabilities and employers who could benefit from their talents.

The Leadership Action Project focuses specifically on the provision of Disability Awareness Training and Community Employment Programming for the business community. UCP has offered Disability Awareness Training to corporate partners free of charge for the past two years. Through the work of the Board of Directors and Business Advisory Committee, anecdotal evidence has supported the premise that training for businesses related to the employment of individuals with disabilities is relevant and sought after in the corporate marketplace. As the demand for such services has increased, UCP has worked to refine sessions and provide a more comprehensive product to market to the community. The Leadership Action Project Team has several objectives, including: determining the need for more comprehensive Disability Awareness Training Services; determining the gaps in communication between employers and employees related to the employment of a diverse workforce in Greater Cleveland; developing key messages and curriculum enhancements; developing a plan to market these services and other community employment initiatives effectively.

The team will continue to work throughout the next several months to develop action steps, sustainability plans and success metrics to ensure that UCP of Greater Cleveland is reaching the community to enhance work opportunities and the overall work experience for individuals with disabilities. UCP is grateful to Cleveland Bridge Builders and the members of the Leadership Action Project Team for their support and assistance.

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