Perspectives and Partners Build Personalized Internship Programs for Individuals with Disabilities

By Sara Porcaro | August 1, 2017

There is a certain sentiment that most, if not all people, can relate to: that life presents a unique challenge for each individual. However, not all challenges are to be overcome alone; every challenge, big or small, has the opportunity to become the cause of the individual, their community, and friends.

This month, Perspectives Corporation, Access Point RI, Looking Upwards, and Opportunities Unlimited -- four organizations dedicated to serving and supporting people with disabilities --are uniting in collaboration with employers, including CVS and Home Depot, to create new partnerships with the help of the Real Pathways RI grant.

The Real Pathways RI grant to Perspectives and its partners, totaling $126,820, is one of fourteen grants that the state has given to various organizations dedicated to expanding employment and education for our most vulnerable populations, including veterans, immigrants, and others with higher employment barriers.

This grant will contribute to building in-depth, personalized internship programs for individuals with disabilities, which will help build work experience, expand and strengthen good work skills and other talents, and assess each individual's work preferences in order to find each person's choice work environment. It also aims to bridge the gap between businesses and those seeking employment via business liaisons, and to provide examples of success from those businesses who already employ individuals with disabilities. By identifying and resolving barriers to employment-- such as lack of work experience or the pervasive myths surrounding hiring people with disabilities -- Perspectives and its partners aim to support both individuals and employers with the tools and resources necessary to thrive.

From a small-internship model consisting of 20 individuals, this approachhas seen great success in moving people from the internship experience to competitive employment. Through the resources now available, thanks to the Real Pathways RI grant, this model is on its way to becoming a state-wide program, with aims of decreasing the 73-75% rate of unemployment amongst people with disabilities, while building opportunities for people to reach their full potential and thrive in their communities.

Through efforts such as this, the strong, united, and committed partnerships of these organizations, as well as our employer partners and the Real Pathways RI grant, Perspectives continues to look toward the futureby promoting the empowerment and wellbeing of those taking on the challenges life presents them, starting with the training and education that both employers and those we support need to foster fantastic work-relations and careers.