Add Us In Consortia
Add Us In was a signature initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). Add Us In grantees sought to identify and develop strategies that increase the ability of small businesses, including those located in or serving underrepresented and historically excluded communities, to employ adults and youth with disabilities. Each site operated as a collaborative consortium with members representing business associations, local workforce investment boards, and local government as well as non-governmental organizations serving diverse populations. Funding for Add Us In began with four consortia in 2010, and an additional four sites were funded in 2011:
- The Los Angeles, California consortium focused on former gang members and individuals recently out of jail who have disabilities. They worked closely with business partners including Homeboy Industries and the Los Angeles County Business Federation, an association of a broad range of Los Angeles chambers of commerce, trade groups, economic development centers, and business associations.
- The Southwest Connecticut consortium worked to change the culture of the workforce development and vocational rehabilitation systems to better accommodate and serve job seekers with disabilities, including LGBT job seekers with disabilities.
- The Kansas City, Missouri consortium focused on providing a continuum of career opportunities, including opportunities for urban youth with disabilities including African American youth with disabilities. Their business partners included the Greater Kansas City Black Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Kansas City Business Leadership Network.
- The Central Oklahoma consortium sought to impact a number of diverse populations, including: minorities; LGBT communities; women; tribal populations, and people with disabilities. The consortium was one of the largest with more than 15 partner organizations/associations and was an active member in several Oklahoma business associations and chambers of commerce including the Capitol Chamber, the Hispanic Chamber, the El Reno Chamber, and the Norman Chamber.
- The Chicago, Illinois consortium focused on youth who have become disabled as a result of violence-induced spinal cord injuries, often due to gang involvement. Working with their partner, FEDEJAL, a federation of Mexican small business owners and regional clubs, they recruited volunteer businesses to mentor participating youth in the development of a business plan to start their own small businesses.
- The New York/New Jersey consortium served northern New Jersey and New York City's LGBTI-, minority-, and women-owned businesses who seek to build a more inclusive workplace by hiring and promoting people with disabilities. Business partners in the consortium include the NYC LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.
- The Rockville, Maryland consortium focused on youth and young adults, including those with Hispanic backgrounds, in education programs and provided them with job preparation, job matching, work-based experience, and case management. Additionally, the consortium supported local businesses in gaining an understanding of the resources available to employ youth with disabilities from underrepresented communities. Their business partners included the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County and the Hispanic Business Foundation of Maryland, Inc.
- The World Institute on Disability-led California consortium focused on testing the current theory of success of internships as a “port of entry” to the workforce. With a network of targeted business, industry associations, and diversity chambers of commerce, they sought to illuminate best practices, challenges, and gaps.