Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Grow Your Gift to AtWork! With GiveBIG on June 23

If you have ever considered giving a gift to AtWork!, now is your chance to make the biggest impact with your dollars.

On June 23, 2011, AtWork! will be participating in an exciting event through The Seattle Foundation that will multiply your gift to us.

GiveBIG is a community-wide giving challenge that will increase the size of your donation to us. This new, one-day, online charitable giving event will rally together our community on behalf of the amazing nonprofit organizations in King County, including AtWork!.

GiveBIG will grow your generosity in two ways:
  • Grow your gift! The Seattle Foundation and local businesses will match a share of every contribution made through The Seattle Foundation's online Giving Center between 7 a.m. and midnight on June 23. The more donations we receive during that time window, the bigger our share of the matching dollars will be.
  • Win a Golden Ticket! During the day, you could be chosen at random to have AtWork! receive an additional $1,000 from GiveBIG’s sponsors.
We encourage you to join our supporters in giving big on June 23. Your gift will help support AtWork!’s mission of helping people with disabilities become productive, contributing, and integrated members of their communities. YOU can help a person with disabilities get a job. For every dollar AtWork! spends on supporting people with disabilities in jobs, $1.69 is returned back to the community in taxes paid and entitlements and other supports that are no longer needed. With GiveBig, your return on investment is significant!

Mark your calendar! Donate to AtWork! between 7 a.m. and midnight on June 23 through our page in The Seattle Foundation’s Giving Center: http://www.seattlefoundation.org/npos/Pages/AtWork!.aspx

There are other ways you can help us make the most of GiveBIG! Here are a few things you can do in addition to making a generous gift:
  1. Mark your calendar today, so you don’t forget to make a gift to AtWork! on June 23!
  2. RSVP for GiveBIG on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheSeattleFoundation. If you do this, The Seattle Foundation will send you an email to remind you of the event to make sure that your gift arrives during the match window of 7am to midnight.
  3. Rally your friends to support AtWork! on June 23! Email, Facebook, Twitter (#GiveBIG), phone calls and even in-person conversations are great ways to spread the word and help us take advantage of GiveBIG. Be sure to share the link to our profile on The Seattle Foundation’s website http://www.seattlefoundation.org/npos/Pages/AtWork!.aspx

Thank you in advance for giving big, and for encouraging your friends, family and colleagues to do the same. With your help AtWork! can continue to create mutually beneficial work relationships between people with disabilities and mainstream employers in the community.

PS: You can learn more about GiveBIG online at www.seattlefoundation.org/GiveBIG.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

AtWork! Works To Create A New Model Of Service Delivery

For decades people with disabilities have been denied access to real jobs, working for free in institutions or for sub-minimum wages in sheltered workshops. We failed to recognize the true contributions people with disabilities can make when given equal opportunity to do so. We did not understand that the desire to contribute exists in all of us.

Today, disability remains the best predictor of poverty. Our purpose is to change that reality. AtWork! changes a life of "being needy" to a life of being needed and valued. Jobs are a way out of poverty and isolation and make disability a predictor of a good and fulfilling life.

For the last 5 years AtWork! has worked to create a new model of service delivery that addresses our mission in a bold new way. Today, we are all about jobs and equal opportunity.

Jobs dramatically change people with disabilities. "Challenging" and "unacceptable" behaviors disappear, people who rarely or never speak engage others, pride replaces low self esteem, and respectability overcomes stigmatization.

As we do a better job of helping each generation of students with disabilities leave school with a job, younger families will have new hope and will firmly believe that regardless of the severity of the disability, work is a real possibility. Parents will start thinking about their children with disabilities differently - or rather the same - the same as they think about their other children; expecting that their sons and daughters will have a rewarding adult life lived outside the family home, working in the community, and enjoying full reciprocity in their relationships and activities. Parents like Helima will no longer need to worry as much about what the future holds.

As more people with disabilities work and we create diverse workplaces, society changes its views and begins to value its citizens with disabilities.

Diverse workplaces ensure economic vitality and long-term stability. We hope that more businesses will decide to capture the human and financial benefits of customized employment. We hope that all workplace cultures embrace the attitudes and values that employees with disabilities have proven to foster: teamwork, respect, courage, loyalty, pride, happiness, compassion, satisfaction.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

AtWork! Addresses Funding Cuts

In February of 2011 AtWork!’s board of directors made the decision that the agency cannot continue to provide services for “free” and remain financially stable long-term. In the past, AtWork! has provided over 1500 hours of service per month (about $20,000 worth of services) for which we were not reimbursed by any funding source. In the past, United Way, commercial revenues, and fundraised dollars allowed us to provide increased services. United Way funds were cut another 15%, which means we are currently receiving 70% less UW funding than in the past. The large commercial contract we lost brought in $300,000 per year, and fundraising last year was only 67% of budget.

Over the next several months, clients who are receiving more services than we are paid to provide will be meeting with staff to develop plans to reduce services. We’ll be making suggestions and referrals to other sources for families who need support and respite. We are also investigating private pay options for individuals and families who can afford to pay for their own support. And we are working on efficiencies to continue to improve on best practices and our cost/benefit ratio. We are expanding our use of volunteers and “natural supports”. We brought together a group of 5 other providers of supported employment we are calling “The Collaborative”. We are sharing expertise, job development leads, and community connections to place 17 people who have the most complex support needs. We have placed 2 people in the first 2 months since launching this collaboration. We are also engaged with 13 other nonprofits in a marketing consortium called CONNECT that we expect will bring significant new commercial opportunities to AtWork! over the next 18 months to 2 years.

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