Randolph, Mass. – May Institute, a national nonprofit that provides programs and services to individuals of all ages with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and a variety of other special needs, has received a two-year, $250,000 Signature Employment Grant from Kessler Foundation. The grant will help fund the Meaningful Jobs Initiative, a collaborative venture between May Institute, its National Autism Center (NAC), and WORK Inc., the largest employer of people with disabilities in New England.
This innovative employment program will identify, train, and support adults with ASD for potential employment in the security industry in New England. The Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) will also serve as partners in this unique partnership between May Institute and WORK Inc.
The funding for this initiative is part of $2.5 million in grants awarded by Kessler Foundation last year to organizations across the United States in support of initiatives that create and expand job training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
It is estimated that approximately 90 percent of adults with ASD are unemployed or underemployed. However, research shows that some of these individuals are often better able to focus on and stay engaged in visual scanning and detail-oriented tasks than their neurotypical peers. These abilities make them well suited for jobs in the security industry.
“Kessler’s investment in our Meaningful Jobs Initiative will support a training program that may result in the employment of individuals with ASD in a variety of positions within the security industry,” said Robert F. Putnam, Ph.D., LABA, BCBA-D, Executive Vice President of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports at May Institute. “One of our goals is to develop guidelines for best practices on how to create a positive work environment for people with ASD. If this effort is successful, we hope that it could be replicated on a national level, impacting hundreds of men and women with autism,” added Putnam.
“This is a unique collaboration and one that may give individuals with ASD the opportunity to work in a multitude of different roles in the security industry at the conclusion of their vocational and academic training,” said James Cassetta, MPA, President and CEO of WORK Inc. “With the May’s longstanding record of success in providing clinical support services to persons with disabilities, and our 52-year commitment of providing skills training and job opportunities to individuals with disabilities, this is a program that will change - for the better - the national conversation surrounding the best ways to incorporate the disabled into our country’s workforce.”
About May Institute
May Institute is an award-winning nonprofit organization with more than 60 years of experience in serving children and adults with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities, brain injury and neurobehavioral disorders, and other special needs. The organization provides educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral healthcare services to individuals, as well as training and consultation services to professionals, organizations, and public school systems. At more than 140 service locations across the country, highly trained staff works to create new and more effective ways to meet the special needs of individuals and families across the lifespan. For more information, call 800.778.7601 or visit www.mayinstitute.org
About WORK Inc.
Nationally recognized as an innovator in developing community based programs for individuals with disabilities WORK Inc. is New England’s leading agency providing the skills and supportive services that help people achieve their career goals. The organization’s expertise in the employment industry has been achieved through a long and rich history of producing high quality employment outcomes through its customized supported employment programs and business development in the commercial and Federal sectors.
WORK Inc.’s dedicated staff and managers continue its mission to close the opportunity gap through best in class employment and placement services that make the lives of individuals with disabilities better and more independent. If you are a person with ASD and would like to become a participant in the Meaningful Jobs Initiative, please reach out to Jon Francis at JFrancis@workinc.org.
About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads that nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities.