Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Public Comments from AtWork!

Fourth of five excerpts from testimony by Chris Brandt before the City of Bellevue Human Services Commission, March 16, 2010.

Like most nonprofits, AtWork! has experienced funding reductions. In 2007 AtWork! received $475,000 from United Way. In 2010 we will receive $150,000. This is a significant impact to an organization with a $3.5 million annual budget. We have “replaced” most of this revenue through our own fundraising efforts, but we can’t help but think how many more people would have jobs today if this funding source had continued at a higher level of support.

Our commercial revenues, particularly in the recycling business have decreased due to the economy. We expect to generate about 1.5 million in commercial revenue from our new business, document management.

AtWork! uses Bellevue funds to leverage dollars from other sources. We receive funding from other 4 other cities to support the community liaison position that helps us develop volunteer opportunities and paid jobs. Without Bellevue’s support, it is unlikely we would capture funds from other cities. The City is counted as a partner in all of our grant applications. Bellevue has taken a lead role in helping AtWork! implement Washington State’s Working Age Adult Policy by funding the transitional employment consultant position. Support from the City adds credibility to funding applications. Individual donors are pleased when their dollars are stretched further because they are combined with the tax dollars the City targets for human services within their home town.

Read the continuation of Chris Brandt’s testimony here at the AtWork! blog on April 1st.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Gaps for Adults with Disabilities.

Third of five excerpts from testimony by Chris Brandt before the City of Bellevue Human Services Commission, March 16, 2010.

The 2009-2010 Human Services Needs Update identifies lack of paid and volunteer opportunities as gaps for adults with disabilities. In 2007, 2 clients served by AtWork! experienced a volunteer opportunity in the community. We have created significantly more volunteer opportunities over time: in 2008 36 people volunteered, and 90 people volunteered in 2009. 49 people had community jobs in 2007, 57 in 2008, and 67 in 2009. In 2008, 14 employers who had never hired a person with a disability before hired someone. In 2009, in spite of the economy, 8 new employers hired people with disabilities. We would like to see this trend line go up, not down.

Some people that AtWork! supports in community jobs are the primary wage earners for their entire family. Another gap identified is services for aging parents of people with disabilities who live at home. When people with disabilities have jobs, they contribute to the financial and overall well-being of their entire family. Fewer services are necessary in the home.

Read the continuation of Chris Brandt’s testimony here at the AtWork! blog on March 30th.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Public Comments from AtWork!

Second of five excerpts from testimony by Chris Brandt before the City of Bellevue Human Services Commission, March 16, 2010.

As a result of the recession, more high school students with disabilities are graduating without any adult services in place. The state legislature is likely to adopt a budget that funds employment services for only 300 of the 1300 students with disabilities in the state who will graduate in 2010 and 2011. If this trend continues, the number of young adults sitting at home with nothing productive to do will increase every year and we will have an even larger gap in services.

AtWork! continues to provide services to people who lose their county funding or have their service hours reduced due to federal waiver lids. We have a commitment to leave no one behind. In order to continue providing services when typical funding options disappear, AtWork! has focused on fundraising including holding an annual fundraising event and cultivating individual donors and on grant writing.

For the first time in its history AtWork! has launched a private pay program. We currently have 2 private pay clients and are serving 7 people who have no government funding.

We have launched a public education campaign to work with families of students in high school at a much younger age. Expecting the trend of limited and reduced funding to continue, we are being proactive in seeking support for employment services from families who are able to save and pay for their son or daughter’s services, just like most parents save for college.

Read the continuation of Chris Brandt’s testimony here at the AtWork! blog on March 25th.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Impact of the Recession on AtWork! and the People We Serve

First of five excerpts from testimony by Chris Brandt before the City of Bellevue Human Services Commission, March 16, 2009.

The economic recession has impacted AtWork! and the people we serve in two ways: the amount of resources available to serve them and the job opportunities available for people seeking employment. In fiscal year 2009 AtWork! (which ended September 30) served 237 people, of which 79 are Bellevue residents.

AtWork! served fewer new people last year than planned (bringing into service 24 clients, a little over ½ of the 40 we targeted). There simply was not enough funding for everyone who needs services. Particularly impacted are young adults 21 to 35 who did not get a job or into service after high school graduation. These individuals typically need more intensive 1:1 support to be successful in employment as they often have both cognitive and physical disabilities. When people with disabilities are not served in an employment program, aging families and residential support programs are additionally burdened. More importantly, they suffer from isolation, a lack of purpose, and stigmatization. Skills learned in high school deteriorate and inappropriate behaviors and mental health issues increase.

People with disabilities must be eligible for the federal home and community based waiver program to receive funding for employment services from the county and state. In the past the state provided funding for those who did not qualify for the federal match program. This is no longer the case.

In fiscal year 2008, 5 people employed in community businesses lost their jobs. In our fiscal year 2009 16 people lost jobs, with more than ½ related to the economy. So far in fiscal year 2010, which started October 2009, 11 people have lost jobs, ¾ due to the economy. Job development is more difficult as people with disabilities are competing with a large skilled laid-off workforce. AtWork! placed 20 new people in community jobs in 2009, the same as in 2008. The City of Bellevue’s support of AtWork!’s community liaison and job development staff person was critical to this success.

Read the continuation of Chris Brandt’s testimony here at the AtWork! blog on March 23rd.

posted by AtWork! at

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

NISH awards AtWork! a Certificate of Achievement

AtWork!, a certified Ability One Contractor, received recognition from NISH with the awarding of a Certificate of Achievement for 2009.

The certificate was presented in recognition of the high standards of performance AtWork! has maintained throughout 2009 by providing a service for the Federal government under the AbilityOne Program. AtWork!’s supported employment landscaping program maintains the grounds of the Ft. Lawton cemetery adjacent to Discovery Park in Seattle and at the Seattle Veterans Administration Hospital.

Established in 1974, NISH is one of two national, nonprofit agencies designated by the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled [a federal government agency] to support nonprofit agencies participating in the AbilityOne Program which provides employment opportunities for people who are blind or have other severe disabilities by procuring Federal contracts for goods and services.

In making the award, Robert Chamberlin, President & CEO of the AbilityOne program, said, “This recognition symbolizes a ‘job well-done.’ Outstanding overall performance in the AbilityOne program proves that persons with severe disabilities can be productive, contributing members of society.”

posted by AtWork! at

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Reward Yourself With Visibility and New Customers

Through barrier removal and diligent assessment of accessible features, businesses earn membership in BluePath and are promoted through an online directory. BluePath actively advertises its member businesses to people with disabilities and the organizations that work with them. BluePath helps businesses connect with an underutilized market of people with money to spend.

Through virtual feedback and response, BluePath facilitates a positive discussion about the needs of the customers and the abilities of the business to provide the best customer experience possible. BluePath aims to create understanding and build trust between businesses and people with disabilities. Through a variety of media, businesses can access technical assistance and information about accessibility guidelines, tax incentives, customer service and disability etiquette tips. BluePath seeks to calm the anxiety of businesses who don’t know where to begin when dealing with laws and codes

BluePath promotes businesses that have demonstrated minimum standards through a self-assessment process and seeks to advertise businesses that are user-friendly and have made a commitment to maintain as accessible an environment as possible.

Become a BluePath Member - FREE until June 2010!

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Attract New Customers by Becoming a BluePath Business

BluePath promotes businesses that welcome people with disabilities as valuable customers.

Until restaurant reviews include comments on accessibility, potential customers with disabilities may only guess whether they can get into the restaurant and enjoy the food. The same is true for other retail establishments, hotels, and businesses, especially when one is traveling and in unfamiliar territory. At the same time, business owners may incorrectly assume their building is completely accessible, when relatively minor changes might vastly improve the ease with which customers with disabilities could use it. A new resource by Northwest ADA Center, called BluePath, should help both business owners and customers get together.

BluePath provides information for people with disabilities about where to shop, dine or go for fun. Through the directory of business profiles, customers with disabilities can find detailed descriptions of accessible features for locations in their community or travel destination, making it easier for them to travel through their world. Reviews and ratings from previous customers provide further information about their experience at the business. BluePath helps people with disabilities find businesses that are usable and committed to serving them.

Become a BluePath Member - FREE until June 2010!

posted by AtWork! at

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Attract New Customers as a BluePath Business

BluePath promotes businesses that welcome people with disabilities as valuable customers.

Until restaurant reviews include comments on accessibility, potential customers with disabilities may only guess whether they can get into the restaurant and enjoy the food. The same is true for other retail establishments, hotels, and businesses, especially when one is traveling and in unfamiliar territory. At the same time, business owners may incorrectly assume their building is completely accessible, when relatively minor changes might vastly improve the ease with which customers with disabilities could use it. A new resource by Northwest ADA Center, called BluePath, should help both business owners and customers get together.

BluePath provides information for people with disabilities about where to shop, dine or go for fun. Through the directory of business profiles, customers with disabilities can find detailed descriptions of accessible features for locations in their community or travel destination, making it easier for them to travel through their world. Reviews and ratings from previous customers provide further information about their experience at the business. BluePath helps people with disabilities find businesses that are usable and committed to serving them.

Become a BluePath Member - FREE until June 2010!

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