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Background

The Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program was established as a way to recognize businesses that employ individuals who have a disability as well as businesses that establish or contribute to organizations that support the independence of individuals who have a disability. Businesses designated as a Unique Abilities Partner have demonstrated their support and commitment to the independence of Floridians with unique abilities.

Definition of Unique Abilities

For purposes of the Unique Abilities Partner Program, “unique ability” references an individual with a disability. According to Florida Statutes, “individuals who have a disability” means persons who have a physical or intellectual impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, persons who have a history or record of such an impairment, or persons who are perceived by others as having such an impairment.

Recognition

Florida Unique Abilities Partners will be listed on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Florida Unique Abilities Partnership program website, may be used in VISIT FLORIDA marketing campaigns and will be tagged as a Unique Abilities Partner in the Employ Florida Marketplace if the business is listed in the Employ Florida Marketplace.

Businesses designated as Unique Abilities Partners will also receive a window display of the logo, which can be proudly displayed in its office or storefront demonstrating to the public its commitment and support of individuals with unique abilities. The logo can also be used on other company-related materials identifying the business as a Unique Abilities Partner.

Logo guidelines are available here.

Benefits

The program strengthens Florida’s economy and workforce by giving a talented but untapped group of Floridians who want to work more opportunities to do so. Participating partners sent a strong message of social responsibility to their communities, and to current and prospective customers.

The complete business toolkit is available here.

Criteria for Designation as a Unique Abilities Partner

Businesses are encouraged to apply if they meet the program criteria. An individual can also nominate a business they believe meet the criteria.

  1. Employment of at least one individual with a disability. Such employees must be residents of Florida and must have been employed by the business for at least nine months before the business applies for a Unique Abilities Partner designation. (Note:  If this criterion is selected, the applicant acknowledges [self-attestation] that the business meets this criterion. No documentation is required)
  2. Contributed to local and/or national disability organizations or made contributions in support of individuals who have a disability.Such contributions may be financial or in-kind, including employee volunteer hours.A business with 100 or fewer employees must make a financial or in-kind contribution of at least $1,000 and a business with more than 100 employees must make a financial or in-kind contribution of at least $5,000. (Note:  If this criterion is selected, contributions must be documented by providing copies of written receipts or letters of acknowledgement from recipients, volunteers or the organization. Contributions are determined on a calendar year basis.)
  3. Established or contributed to the establishment of a program that advances the independence of individuals who have a disability.  A business with 100 or fewer employees must make a financial or in-kind contribution of at least $1,000 in the program and a business with more than 100 employees must make a financial or in-kind contribution of at least $5,000. (Note:  If this criterion is selected, contributions must be documented by providing copies of written receipts, a summary of the program, program materials, or letters of acknowledgement from program participants or volunteers.  Contributions are determined on a calendar year basis.)

Annual Certification

Businesses receiving a Florida Unique Abilities Partnership program designation must certify each year that it continues to meet the above criteria in order to retain the distinction. For the initial program implementation, 2016 and 2017 will be combined into one program year so businesses will not be required to recertify until 2018.  Instructions and timelines for recertification will be emailed to the business in mid-2017 as well as an email reminder as the deadline gets closer.

Best Practices

Unique Abilities business partners are encouraged to connect with other like-minded companies and organizations and to share best practices with businesses that do not yet employ Floridians with unique abilities.  The program also opens the door for businesses to network and partner with fellow designees, thereby fostering new business opportunities and collaborations.

Want to learn more about the Unique Abilities Partner Program?

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