CareerACCESS End of Year Report 2015

This year has been an extremely busy and productive year for the CareerACCESS team. We’re excited to share all our accomplishments with you!

CareerACCESS Goals – 2015

  1. Grow the number of agencies partnering for Career ACCESS from 4 to 10.
  2. Increase the number of young adults with disabilities advocating for CareerACCESS to at least 100.
  3. Educate at least 4 agencies active in economic development as to why they should include people with disabilities in their central mission.
  4. Produce at least four 3-minute videos describing CareerACCESS.
  5. Update CareerACCESS Legislative Summary.
  6. Communicate with at least 6 foundations that may be interested in funding different aspects of CareerACCESS.
  7. Meet with workforce development administrators in at least 5 states.
  8. Facilitate workshops on CareerACCESS at the NCIL Conference.
  9. Engage at least 10 legislators who are members of committees that have jurisdiction over Health, Education and/or Labor.

CareerACCESS 2015 Summary

2015 has proven to be an extremely productive year for the CareerACCESS initiative. The core group members of the initiative worked vigorously to achieve all the goals they set out for the year. As a team, we participated in several conferences, held meetings and webinars to reach out to young adults, legislators, and various agencies and organizations, expanded our core group, formed the National CareerACCESS Advisory Committee, and began talking to and planning with states interested in piloting CareerACCESS.

By meeting with different agencies and organizations throughout the year, CareerACCESS has been able to partner with 10 new agencies and educate 3 new agencies active in economic development as to why they should include people with disabilities in their central mission. Other than agencies and policy makers, the CareerACCESS team has worked vigorously to reach more young adults with disabilities by holding webinars, presenting at conferences, and utilizing social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Garnering support for CareerACCESS, especially from young adults with disabilities has been a top priority for CareerACCESS this year. The team was able to expand by including 7 young adults with disabilities working to advocate for the initiative. These young adults took the lead in organizing and participating in events to spread the word and educate people about CareerACCESS. One of the highlights of the year was the CareerACCESS trip to Washington, D.C., in July, in conjunction with the “ADA at 25” activities at the NCIL Annual Conference.

During the 10 days in DC, CareerACCESS members participated in several meetings and evens that included 3 workshops centering on CareerACCESS, multiple meetings with Members of Congress and their staff, many meetings with disability advocates and advocacy agencies, a meeting with 3 Community Economic Development agencies and speaking at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s SSDI Solutions Initiative Conference. The dialog at these meetings presented evidence of a strong consensus to fully develop and pilot CareerACCESS. In addition, the team decided to create a new group called “Young Adults for CareerACCESS” to help move this initiative forward.

Government Sponsored Events Feature Young Adult Presentations

Emily Ladau, Justin Harford, Andy Arias and Daniel Mellenthin, all young adults, have been active members of the CareerACCESS Core Team. Justin moderated the panel at the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) conference on July 27th, where he was joined by Andy, Daniel and an activist named Angel Miles. Additionally, all four young adults spoke on the panel during the National Council on Disability’s (NCD) Congressional Hearing on July 28th. Justin, Daniel, and Andy also spoke on the panel held on July 31st for representatives from the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice and other federal agencies. Emily assisted in coordinating speakers for both the NCIL panel and Congressional Hearing and kept social media updated on our progress. Daniel also did a great job recruiting other young adults with disabilities to be interested in and advocate for CareerACCESS.

CareerACCESS also participated in the National Council on Disability’s (NCD) Congressional Hearing. Jack Mills from the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, Bob Friedman and David Newville from The Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) and Zach Morrow from National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) joined the team at the NCD Congressional Hearing. They spoke afterwards about working together to move this agenda forward and possible funding opportunities for this initiative.

The CareerACCESS team met with staff and members of the Social Security Advisory Board. The young adults on the team told their stories with an emphasis on how SSI needs to be reformed, advocating for the piloting and implementation of CareerACCESS. As a success of our work in DC, the CareerACCESS team has been asked to come back and speak to the Advisory Committee on Competitive Employment.

Young Adults for CareerACCESS

The CareerACCESS core team also planned to start a “Young Adults for CareerACCESS” team by the end of the year. By holding teleconferences and Twitter chat, Andy Arias who is leading this project, aims to create a solid group of young adults who will work in 2016 to promote awareness and gain ideas for CareerACCESS. This group will meet twice a month to look for avenues where we can potentially expand the conversation of CareerACCESS.

National CareerACCESS Advisory Committee

Another major step the CareerACCESS took was in establishing the National CareerACCESS Advisory Committee. This group consists of people from nationally renowned organizations who are committed to seeing CareerACCESS fully developed, funded, staffed, piloted and implemented nationwide.

The committee members include:

  • Anita Aaron, WID
  • Barbara A. Butz, PolicyWorks
  • Bob Friedman, CFED
  • Bryon MacDonald, WID
  • Christopher Rodriguez, NDI
  • David Newville, CFED
  • Elizabeth Jennings, NDI
  • Henry Ramos, Insight
  • Jack Mills, Insight
  • Neil Jacobson, Abilicorp
  • Robert Zdenek, NCRC
  • Zach Morrow, Duke Univ.

Getting States Involved

Michigan continues to lead state interest in dialog and planning activities to assess how a state could become a CareerACCESS pilot project, and to advance dialog at the federal level in Congress and with federal agencies likely to be directly involved in outcomes generated by state pilot project implementation.

Dialog within states among Independent Living Centers and other advocacy groups occurred this year with the CareerACCESS Core Group in California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Nebraska, Utah, and Oregon. In particular, meetings early in the New Year are being scheduled in California, Delaware and Massachusetts to promote CareerACCESS.

CareerACCESS Core Group team member Bryon MacDonald met with Michigan stakeholders during three separate trips to Michigan in 2015. Bryon presented an interactive overview of CareerACCESS design features, and the current level of stakeholder engagement in Michigan on CareerACCESS, to over 60 participants at a November statewide conference. The presentation included questions asking for more details, and concluded by sharing our plans to meet later that day with Michigan’s Community Ventures leadership. Michigan advocates met with 13 of their 16 member Congressional delegation this year, briefing them on CareerACCESS and strategies to address the stagnant unemployment of Americans with disabilities.

Michigan is planning out a two day set of meetings for early 2016, on day one with key and senior stakeholders, to be followed on day two by a briefing with the Lieutenant Governor by representatives from this group. Young adults with a disability will participate in both meetings. Cultivation of possible resources to cover meeting expenses has begun.

Government officials in Vermont this fall, led by the Director of Vocational Rehabilitation Dianne Dalmasse, are beginning to take organized steps in similar directions. Both Michigan and Vermont at year-end are each taking steps to generate a state Governor-signed letter to Congress and other federal audiences requesting federal action and dedicated movement towards the policy objectives and designs found in the CareerACCESS initiative. Both states are engaged with data collection activities on SSI target populations in their state.

Next Steps: CareerACCESS 2016 Goals

Overall Goal: Plan and organize activities that will enable CareerACCESS to be piloted in at least 1 state by mid-2017.

Outreach Goals:

  1. Grow the number of agencies partnering for Career ACCESS to 25+.
  2. Increase the number of young adults with disabilities advocating for CareerACCESS to 300+.
  3. Produce at least five 3-minute videos describing CareerACCESS.
  4. Find 4 new foundations that are interested in funding different aspects of CareerACCESS.
  5. Hold quarterly meetings with interested pilot states.
  6. Facilitate workshops on CareerACCESS for NCIL 2016.
  7. Obtain support from 10+ federal legislators who are on committees that have jurisdiction over Social Security, Medicaid and appropriations.
  8. Obtain support from Social Security Administration and other affected federal agencies.

Pilot Readiness Goals – National:

  1. Define roles and responsibilities of career coaches.
  2. Define processes and procedures regarding Individualized Career Plans (ICP).
  3. Define overarching success criteria.
  4. Complete national cost benefit analysis.
  5. Identify and obtain required statutory waivers.
  6. Identify and obtain funding for national CareerACCESS pilot oversight office.

Pilot Readiness Goals – Each State:

  1. Identify CareerACCESS Champions.
  2. Identify affected agencies.
  3. Identify a CareerACCESS advisory committee
    Include people from the Disability, Business, Economic Development Communities and all affected agencies.
  4. Develop and execute outreach and marketing plan.
  5. Obtain legislative and governor support.
  6. Identify and fund planning grant that may include:
    1. Identify and gain agreement for blending and braiding funding by all affected agencies
    2. Define organizational structure
    3. Define processes and procedures
    4. Complete state cost benefit analysis
    5. Execute outreach and marketing plan
    6. Obtain statutory waivers and pilot funding.
If you would like to get involved with our initiative this year, please contact us at 

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