In November 2019, the Administration for Community Living invited American businesses and other entities to compete for $380,000 in cash prizes to help expand their recruiting and retention programs to better include workers with disabilities (particularly people with intellectual and developmental disabilities).
From more than 50 competitive proposals, ACL selected five Phase 1 winners to refine their models and continue to compete for the $60,000 Phase 2 prizes. The five teams presented their results and findings from the small-scale feasibility testing of their innovative workforce pipeline models proposed in Phase 1.
Today, ACL is announcing the three Phase 2 prize winners. The three winners will now refine their models and compete for the $100,000 grand prize.
Phase 2 Winners:
The manufacturing and engineering design firm FALA Technologies proposed a program that aims to prepare youth and adults with disabilities for jobs in advanced manufacturing. The STEPs pre-apprenticeship program’s mission is to create a fully integrated training and placement program using the principles of universal design to train and prepare individuals for STEM-based technology jobs in all sectors of in-demand industries. Through the model’s STEPs career pathway individuals with disabilities will participate in professional and industry training, take applied learning coursework, receive certifications, and be placed in an internship program that will advance to an apprenticeship program. With their small-scale testing, FALA demonstrated favorable results in their program. The testing indicated that with proper technical and professional training individuals with IDD can enter the workforce and attain a job in a variety of industries. For more information, visit FALA Technologies Inc.
KPMG, a large professional services firm, teamed with Melwood, a Maryland-based disability service agency, to train neurodiverse candidates for jobs in the cybersecurity industry through their abilIT program. Melwood’s mission is to advocate for and empower individuals with disabilities to transform their lives through unique opportunities to work and play in the community. The abilIT training program hopes to increase a candidate’s confidence, provide a CompTIA certification, and prepare them to attain an entry-level tech or tech-adjacent job. The program utilizes personal, professional, technical, and social training. Employers would have access to a pool of candidates who complete the program and can apply the training to fulfill and retain positions. With their small-scale testing, KPMG and Melwood demonstrated promising success at unlocking the untapped talent of neurodiverse individuals. For more information, visit Melwood.
Mentra, the creators of a digital hiring platform connecting recruiters and neurodiverse applicants, prioritizes understanding the intangible characteristics of neurodiverse individuals to effectively increase the talent pool of job seekers and improve job retention. Mentra’s ambitious mission is to get 100,000 autistic individuals into the workforce by 2025. By using an intelligent matching algorithm, the platform connects employers to capable, qualified candidates well-suited for roles based on four dimensions: personality, career background, strengths and interests, and environmental preferences. With their small-scale testing, Mentra demonstrated that through personal, comprehensive screening, and supplemental training to enhance qualifications, autistic individuals can effectively attain a job unique to their talents and employers can retain the candidates. Visit Mentra for more information.