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Press Releases

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Montana on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Helena, MT, October 11 – Later this month, Montana’s State Workforce Development Board will meet to discuss the status of workforce practices in Big Sky Country. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s new Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 63,386 working age (18-64) Montanans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 46.9 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Montana’s Workforce Development Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website. [continue reading…]

Gov. Roy Cooper: “North Carolina is an Employment First State”

Raleigh, NC, October 8 – North Carolina must “increase opportunities for fair wages, career employment, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities,” said Governor Roy Cooper in a proclamation marking October as Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Gov. Cooper also recommitted to “transforming state government into a model employer of people with disabilities” according to Executive Order No. 92. The order announced North Carolina as “an employment first state,” and promised North Carolinians with disabilities further access to employment, internship opportunities, job development, transition programs, and support services through the state’s vocational rehabilitation divisions and services for the blind within the Department of Health and Human Services.

These are important public commitments for the more than 682,617 working-age people living with disabilities in the Tar Heel State. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina had a 35.3 percent disability employment rate. By contrast, people without disabilities had an employment rate of 77.4 percent. That means that there is a 42-percentage point gap in labor force participation rates between people with and without disabilities. [continue reading…]

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz: People with Disabilities “Benefit Minnesota’s Economy”

St. Paul, MN, October 8 – “Individuals with disabilities are valuable and skillful workers, as well as productive contributors and taxpayers in the workforce,” said Minnesota Governor Tim Walz in a proclamation marking October as Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Gov. Walz’s proclamation highlighted “the decades of activism and advocacy by the disability community” which have opened doors and improve society. Additionally, the proclamation spotlighted Minnesota’s continued work on the state’s Olmstead Plan and included a commitment to provide “Minnesotans with disabilities with a continuum of work options that best meet individual needs and choices in a person-centered manner.”

This is an important public commitment for the 296,969 working-age people living with disabilities in the North Star State. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota had a 48.1 percent disability employment rate. By contrast, people without disabilities had an employment rate of 85.3 percent. That means that there is a 37.1percentage point gap in labor force participation rates between people with and without disabilities. [continue reading…]

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Kansas on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Topeka, KS, October 8 – This week, the Kansas State Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Sunflower State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s new Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 208,624 working age (18-64) Kansans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 44.2 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Kansas’ Workforce Development Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website. [continue reading…]

RespectAbility Urges Everyone to Fill Out 2021 Faith and Disability Inclusion Survey

Six diverse people with disabilities smile together in a hallway. Text: RespectAbility wants your opinion! Take the Faith and Disability Inclusion Survey and you could win $250!Los Angeles, CA, October 8 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community, is announcing the launch of a new Faith and Disability Inclusion survey. They are hoping that anyone who has any connection to disability and any connection to a faith community will participate. The survey comes alongside the launch of RespectAbility’s 2021 strategic plan, which calls for a major expansion of both the organization’s Jewish Inclusion work, as well an extension of that work to support inclusion in groups affiliated with other faiths.

“In order to successfully deepen our Jewish inclusion work and work to extend its impact to other faiths, it is critical to understand the experiences of people with disabilities, as well as their loved ones and service providers, including both successes and opportunities for improvement,” said Matan Koch, Vice President for Workforce, Leadership, and Faith Programs at RespectAbility. “In order to truly meet the needs of communities of faith and the people affiliated with them, we need the deepest and broadest feedback we can get, from as many people as possible.” [continue reading…]

K&L Gates’ Craig Leen Joins Board of Advisors at RespectAbility

Craig Leen smiling headshot wearing glasses and a suit and tie

Craig Leen

Washington, D.C., Oct. 7 – Craig Leen, Partner at K&L Gates LLC, based in its Washington, D.C., office, has joined the board of advisors at RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Leen is an experienced attorney, administrator, and academic, who has served in government at the federal, county, and municipal levels, as well as in the private sector. Prior to joining K&L Gates, Leen served as Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) in the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

“Craig’s dedication to equity in the workforce is vital to the advancement of civil rights and opportunities for disabled people in the workforce,” says Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility. “And we are thrilled that he will be joining our board.” [continue reading…]

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises Utah on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Salt Lake City, UT, October 7 – Next week, the Utah State Workforce Development Board meets to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Beehive State. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s new Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 146,969 working age (18-64) Utahans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 50.2 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that Utah’s Workforce Development Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website. [continue reading…]

For NDEAM, Gov. Evers Recognizes “The Many Contributions of Wisconsinites with Disabilities”

Madison, WI, October 7 – In a proclamation marking October as Disability Employment Awareness Month, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers called on his state to recognize “the critical role that workers with disabilities play in strengthening” Wisconsin’s economy, “especially as we continue to bounce back from the unprecedented economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Gov. Evers also noted that Wisconsin is “reaffirming our commitment to providing an environment that encourages and promotes economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and the creation of employment opportunities” for Wisconsinites with disabilities. Evers’ proclamation also called critical attention to the impactful and innovative work of model programs such as Project SEARCH which has helped “more than 1,250 youth and adults with disabilities” find jobs in the competitive workforce.

This is an important public commitment for the 340,868 working-age people living with disabilities in the Badger state. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wisconsin had a 43.5 percent disability employment rate. By contrast, people without disabilities had an employment rate of 83.2 percent. That means that there is a 39.6 percentage point gap in labor force participation rates between people with and without disabilities.

[continue reading…]

RespectAbility Congratulates Summer 2021 National Leadership Fellowship Graduates

Headshots of 15 RespectAbility Summer 2021 Fellows smiling. RespectAbility logo. Text: Summer 2021 Fellow GraduatesRockville, MD, October 6 – Fifteen talented young adults, the majority of whom have disabilities and all of whom are passionate about ensuring equal opportunities for people with disabilities, have completed RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program.

The National Leadership Program trains leaders who are committed to disability issues and plan to go into careers in public policy, advocacy, public relations, journalism, the entertainment industry, diversity, equity and inclusion, fundraising, nonprofit management or faith-based inclusion. The program enables participants to gain skills and contacts while making a positive difference for people with disabilities. [continue reading…]

Building an Equitable Recovery: RespectAbility Advises New Mexico on Solutions for People with Disabilities

Albeurquerque, NM, October 6 – This week, the New Mexico State Workforce Development Board met to discuss the status of workforce practices in the Land of Enchantment. In response to this meeting, RespectAbility, a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization, submitted testimony on how to implement best practices, advocate for greater inclusion and improve the standing of people with disabilities in the workforce.

“When it was passed with broad, bipartisan support in 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) invested unprecedented resources into efforts to get people with barriers to employment into the labor force,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, RespectAbility’s new Chairman. “Now, after the pandemic that has reshaped our economy, it is time to devote significant attention to supporting the economic advancement of students, job-seekers, and entrepreneurs with disabilities.”

There are more than 166,609 working age (18-64) New Mexicans living with some form of disability. Before the pandemic, 35.9 percent of the working age population of people with disabilities were employed. It is critical that New Mexico’s Workforce Development Board listen to the individuals with disabilities and advocates impacted by these unemployment rates. In order to make the workforce more inclusive, and to find practical ways to make the workforce more accessible for the entire population, RespectAbility collects, summarizes, and publicizes ideas on key workforce solutions. To learn more about RespectAbility’s advocacy work, please visit our Policy website. [continue reading…]

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