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Going to Bat for Tomorrow's Workforce

For many people across America, summer and baseball just go together. And for several youth with disabilities in Kansas City, Missouri, they especially did so this summer.  

Through a creative collaboration with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the ODEP-funded Add Us In Kansas City, Missouri consortium facilitated a work experience opportunity for eight young people with disabilities during the week-long celebration surrounding the 2012 Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star Game on July 10th. The students — all graduates of the Urban Career Academy program developed and implemented by Add Us In Kansas City — worked in positions such as greeters, ticket takers and gift shop assistants to help the museum manage a high volume of visitors in town for the festivities.

Going forward, the program will serve as a model that other businesses in Kansas City’s 18th and Vine historic entertainment district can emulate. But of course, such opportunities can benefit young people with disabilities — and businesses — in any community. For many businesses, youth work experience programs and internships are an effective way to recruit and evaluate potential future employees. What’s more, they reflect good corporate citizenship. Today’s consumers expect more of businesses than just goods and services, and an investment in a community’s future workforce, including youth with disabilities, can help increase customer loyalty and brand trust.

Businesses of any size and in any industry interested in offering work experiences for youth with disabilities in the communities in which they operate can learn more about how to do so by contacting a variety of resources, including local Workforce Investment Boards and One-Stop Career Centers with youth programs. Additional resources include local schools and youth service provider organizations.

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