Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) offers cutting edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans with disabilities resulting from their service to our country. The EBV is designed to open the door to business ownership for veterans by 1) developing their skills in the many steps and activities associated with launching and growing a small business, and by 2) helping them leverage programs and services for veterans and people with disabilities in a way that furthers their entrepreneurial dreams.

The EBV is offered at a network of six world class institutions: The Whiteman School of Management, UCLA Anderson School of Management, Florida State University’s College of Business, Mays Business School at Texas A&M, The Krannert School of Management at Purdue University and the University of Connecticut School of Business.

From the beginning, the program was conceived as a social venture to provide world class training in entrepreneurship and small business management to veterans with disabilities, without any cost whatsoever to the veteran. The program was founded on the belief that our veterans have already earned the price of admission, as a consequence of their military service.

In the three years since the program was launched at Syracuse University, more than 200 veterans have completed the EBV training and the EBV has become an integral component of the Department of Defense’s efforts to transition military members with disabilities from military to civilian life. In 2009, the Department of the Army named the EBV as a national 'best practice' for programs serving soldiers and their families. "By all accounts the EBV program has developed into a truly world-class initiative that is representative of a novel programmatic approach to addressing a social and economic imperative." Most importantly, the EBV program represents a means to empower America's veterans with disabilities to fight yet again for their own economic freedom in the most American way possible - through entrepreneurship.

To learn more about this world class program visit their EBV website.

posted by AtWork! at


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Americans With Disabilities Act Turns 20

Who hasn’t used a curb cut to step from the street to the sidewalk? You may not have a physical disability but at times, when you’ve have a heavy cart to push or have a temporary disabling condition, you have probably found it very useful. The Amenicans with Disabilities Act (ADA) made it possible for persons with disabilities to travel the sidewalks and streetscapes of America.

The ADA, signed into law by President George H W Bush on July 26,,1990, has helped millions of people with disabilities access the basic rights they are entitled to as citizens of our country. It was landmark legislation that provides civil rights protection for people with disabilities and in the two decades since it was signed into law, there has been amazing progress in helping to create normal and usual circumstances for everyone.

The ADA has been the driving force behind changing the physical and the cultural world we live in to include everyone. The transportation system in this country has become much more comfortable because of the ADA. A person in a wheel chair, even a power wheel chair, can travel independently to just about any city that person would like to go. There has been an explosion of adaptive technology developed that assists individuals with disabilities in their efforts to hold down jobs, to be tourists, to attend worship services; in other words to participate in life.

As Janet Labrick says on the ADA video “Disability in general is an equal opportunity condition. Each one of us has the opportunity to acquire a disability.” As we celebrate the benefits we all derive from the ADA, we ask that you help to make even more strides forward toward full equality and inclusion.

Watch the video and learn more about the impact of the ADA.

posted by AtWork! at


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bellevue Needs to Support Human Services Funding

The following is excerpted from a presentation made by AtWork! CEO, Chris Brandt, during a budget hearing on July 19th, before the Bellevue City Council.

The City of Bellevue has consistently demonstrated its commitment to its citizens with disabilities through its on-going support of AtWork! including funding our program services with funds you have dedicated to human services, allocating CDBG capital funds, and deeding us the newly remodeled facility off Bel-Red Road. Thank you.

In tough economic times, your continued commitment is more challenging as our need for your support is more essential. We support the Budget One process. AtWork!’s services like the new City Budget are systematic, data driven, and evidence-based. We placed 20 people with disabilities in jobs in the community last year. We currently support 67 adults with significant disabilities who are working. Our services have a significant cost/benefit. We engage in job creation, helping businesses find opportunities for people with disabilities to work and improve their bottom-line.

I’ve attended meetings of the Human Services Commission where I have observed Commissioners and City staff working hard to make tough decisions. They are making solid recommendations to continue funding programs like AtWork! and to make investments in services that address emergent needs that are on the rise due to the recession.

We encourage you to maintain your investment in the human services infrastructure of our community. An innovative, vibrant, and caring community is possible only when all citizens have access and opportunity to work and to the other services they need. Outcome based budgeting makes sense. Know that you have and will continue to achieve significant outcomes from your local human service agencies. Like you, we are accountable for the results we achieve. Your staff and commissioners expect results from the programs they recommend for funding and monitor these results. You are making sound investments when you fund their recommendations.

Thank you the opportunity to speak to you this evening and for your on-going support.

posted by AtWork! at


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Urge your Senators to support the extension of the FMAP increase

A bill that would funnel federal money to states by helping them with a larger share of their Medicaid costs has failed repeatedly in Congress, most recently last week. Thirty states have already included a new round of federal money in their budgets, Washington among them, assuming that Congress was sure to approve it given its past support and the fiscal chaos likely to ensue if the money is not forthcoming. The bill would extend critical unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed and increase support of the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages program. Without it, states will have to slash jobs to try to balance their budget. The jobs in danger include those who provide child welfare services; help the elderly and disabled; and treat victims of domestic abuse.

There is now serious doubt that the federal government will provide new aid to extend a program in the stimulus bill that is scheduled to expire at the end of December. Beyond harming the larger economy, deep cuts by states would also jeopardize social services even as stubbornly high unemployment rates and other lagging effects of the downturn are fueling demand for the services. With Medicaid and education comprising the lion's share of state budgets, the cuts are likely to hit key programs.

Washington State’s governor, said in a recent statement, “The consequences of losing FMAP funding for our state and to all states are serious. For us, closing the resulting gap could mean a 7.4 percent cut across the board to all programs not protected by our state constitution or federal requirements.” Gregoire said.

The budget passed during the last legislative session included $480 million in additional FMAP dollars after President Obama included it in his budget, the U.S. Senate passed the extension once, and the U.S. House of Representatives passed the extension twice. If the Washington State fails to receive the funding, it would result in a $200 million deficit for the remainder of the 2009-2011 biennium.

posted by AtWork! at


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Social Enterprise - What Is It?

There is a fascinating discussion happening on
Biznic.com about the definition of a Social Enterprise. The discussion was started with an article posted by Biznik contributor Jesse Upp, M.S., Communication Strategist for Change Agents, Edmonds, WA. She sets out 3 criteria she sees as defining a “Social Enterprise”: 1 – The final measure of success is impact on a community. 2 – Creative action is taken as a solution for the greater good. 3 – Pragmatic business practices are applied to a social challenge.

The discussion that follows examines the motive of for-profit social enterprises whose stated mission and impact on community could be hiding a more basic profit or political motive and whether that’s ok, as long as there is a positive outcome for community. Certainly for the businesses that have embraced and include people with disabilities in their workforce, there may be a bit of altruistic motivation behind their actions. But mostly they employ people who can do the work and who can contribute to the bottom line. Just because a person has been identified as a person with a disability does not mean they are there to skate through without being held accountable. People with disabilities are doing real work, and they are adding value to their employers.

Listen to a few testimonials from businesses we work with and you’ll understand what we mean - like Mike Dunn, President of Dunn Lumber whose company employs people with disabilities in eight out of their twelve stores. Or Sean Schwendler, Facilities Manager for the Washington Square Condominiums in Bellevue who has found people with disabilities an invaluable addition to his staff. Ultimately, including people with disabilities in the workforce will impact the community by creating opportunity where each of us, no matter our life circumstances, feels valued and included.

posted by AtWork! at