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The Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program recognizes businesses that are committed to providing career and financial opportunities to individuals with unique abilities and to the organizations that support them. Participating businesses demonstrate their dedication to strengthening communities and the economy by helping these Floridians with untapped talents become more independent and by partnering with other businesses, organizations and state resources in this endeavor.

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Nemours Children’s Health System: Providing opportunities to children with disabilities

We’ve asked our partner programs to share how they support efforts to promote self-sufficiency for people with unique abilities. Below, Nemours Children’s Health System highlights their work to provide opportunities to children with disabilities.

What does Nemours Children’s Health System do to help people with unique abilities?

Nemours Children’s Health System offers specialized pediatric care to children and families from Florida and beyond and provides a wide range of programs for people with unique abilities.

One program that was particularly notable was through Nemours’ partnership with Special Olympics. In 2015, Nemours championed a 12-week Special Olympics Young Athletes program aimed to engage children with disabilities between the ages of two and seven. This partnership helped fill a void for families of children with unique abilities because traditional Special Olympics activities are only available to children eight years old or older.

Through the Young Athletes’ Program, children, along with their siblings, are invited to participate in developmentally appropriate play activities designed to foster physical, cognitive and social development. The program also gives participating children the opportunity to learn about sports and what it means to be part of a team. The effort was such a success that Nemours and the Special Olympics hosted a second year of the program in 2016.

Why is the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program important?

The Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program gives businesses a voice to share how they are making an impact on the disability community. In turn, it also encourages other businesses and organizations to join the movement in making our state more inclusive.

What does the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program mean to you?

Being part of the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program reinforces our commitment to the children we serve through the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program. By building awareness in our community, it is our hope that one day the same children who participate in Special Olympics will have a wide variety of professional opportunities through a company or organization that values inclusive employment.



A New Year’s Resolution for Your Business: Become a Unique Abilities Partner


    With the new year fast approaching, businesses have begun to map out goals and objectives to accomplish in 2017. One way to consider meeting these goals is by helping to raise awareness about the importance of diversity within Florida’s workforce. In a survey conducted by CEB Global, 8 out of 10 business executives stated that diversity is becoming more critical to achieving business objectives.

    By welcoming diversity into our business culture, we are demonstrating our dedication to strengthening our communities and the economy by helping Floridians with untapped talents become more independent. In another CEB research study, it was found that performance among employees improved by 12 percent, and employee retention increased by 20 percent, in work environments where employee diversity was valued and celebrated, allowing everyone to bring something unique to the table.

    This year the state of Florida launched the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program to create more opportunities for individuals with disabilities who are willing and able to join the workforce. The program is dedicated to reducing unemployment and raising awareness about the social and economic benefits of hiring individuals with unique abilities. In Florida, the unemployment rate for these individuals is higher than the national average. Businesses who become a Florida Unique Abilities Partner are recognized as the catalysts who are helping to change that.

    Furthermore, businesses who partner with the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program will receive recognition for their social responsibility in providing much-needed opportunities to those with unique abilities. Partnering with the program can also help to broaden a business’ connections. Each new business that joins the program is encouraged to network and collaborate with each other, presenting yet another strategic advantage in the professional marketplace.

    As you approach 2017, considering making it a resolution for your business or organization to become a Florida Unique Abilities Partner. By participating in the program, you can demonstrate your dedication to strengthening our communities and economy by helping these individuals with untapped talents become more independent and by partnering with other businesses, organizations and state resources in this endeavor.

    For more information about the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program and how to qualify as a partner, visit www.FloridaUniqueAbilities.org.


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FAAST: Helping to Expand Florida’s Talent

We’ve asked our partner programs to share with us how they are supporting individuals with unique abilities. Below, Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) highlights their work to provide assistive technology devices and services that enable persons with disabilities the ability to achieve their highest potential and possibilities in all aspects of life.


What does your business do to help those with unique abilities?

Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) is the state of Florida's assistive technology program.  We assist individuals with unique abilities by providing services through our six Regional Demonstration Centers, including: assistive technology device loan, assistive technology device demonstrations, trainings on assistive technology devices and services, and information and assistance activities.  Also, FAAST operates five Regional ReUse Centers that recycle, refurbish, and repair assistive technology devices and the New Horizon Loan Program, the FAAST Statewide Device Loan Program and the toll-free hotline.


What are the benefits of hiring individuals with unique abilities?

Hiring a person with unique abilities is good business sense.  First, this expands the talent pool.  Second, individuals with unique abilities bring a wide array of skills, perspectives, and experiences to a job. Thirdly, retention rates and attendance rates increase with the addition of individuals with unique abilities to staff positions.  Finally, workforce morale and productivity are strengthened by a more committed workforce.


Why is the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program important?

Assistive technology more often than not is the great equalizer for individuals with unique abilities.  Assistive technology allows these individuals to get, keep, and advance in employment.  Therefore, being a part of the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program makes it possible to show firsthand the benefits of our services and how our employees are striving in their work because of assistive technology.  

The Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program recognizes businesses that are committed to providing career and financial opportunities to individuals with unique abilities and to assisting organizations that support them. For more information on how to join the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program, please click here.   

 


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Hospitality Program of the Palm Beaches – First in the Nation

We’ve asked our partner programs to share with us how they are supporting individuals with unique abilities. Below, CareerSource Palm Beach County tells us about their hospitality program that works to provide these individuals with career and financial opportunities. 

The hospitality industry is Palm Beach County’s largest employer. There has become a higher demand for talent in this industry for the fall and winter seasons as compared to last year. For CareerSource Palm Beach County, this means hundreds of job orders for various positions for our team of hospitality recruiters to fill.

Due to the importance of the hospitality industry to our country, outreach, training and recruiting efforts to fill these positions is extensive. This August, we developed and launched a new program – the first ever in the nation – that expands on the efforts to build the local talent pipeline for hospitality employers in a unique way. The program works to include students with unique abilities, those that are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

The 10-week course works to train and place persons with unique abilities in rewarding hospitality careers through classroom instruction and on-site training. The first class of 10 students graduated in October with professional certifications from the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

The new program will add to other existing hospitality training and placement programs, including:

  • The partnership with Palm Beach County School District that will place students in hospitality/culinary career academies into jobs at area country clubs/hotels.
  • The Summer Youth Hospitality Program to train and place youth and young adults ages 17 – 24 into rewarding hospitality careers.
  • Hospitality degree programs with Palm Beach State College and Florida Atlantic University.

The next Hospitality Program of the Palm Beaches class is expected to start spring 2017. All programs have the same goal – to give candidates a competitive edge to stand out from other applicants and to help meet the need for qualified hospitality employees.  

The Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program recognizes businesses that are committed to providing career and financial opportunities to individuals with unique abilities and to assisting organizations that support them. For more information on how to join the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program, please click here.   


Three Benefits of Becoming a Unique Abilities Partner

Becoming a Unique Abilities Partner not only helps Florida’s community of individuals with disabilities, but it can also benefit your business. Here are three good reasons to become a Unique Abilities Partner:

Recognition: Business entities designated as Florida Unique Abilities Partners will receive name recognition on the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program website, special designation in the Employ Florida Marketplace (if currently listed), the Florida Unique Abilities Partner logo for commercial use and a window display.

Demonstration of socially responsible community leadership: Participating partners send a strong message of social responsibility to their communities and to current and prospective customers.

Connect with and support like-minded businesses: Designated businesses are encouraged to connect with other like-minded companies and organizations and to share best practices to businesses that do not yet employ Floridians with unique abilities. Additionally, participation in the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program opens the door for businesses to network and partner with fellow designees, fostering new business opportunities and collaborations.

Employing a diverse workforce presents businesses with a strategic advantage. In addition to the benefits above, businesses with a more diverse workforce have reported higher levels of productivity and better access to new markets.

Several Florida businesses have already signed on as Unique Abilities Partners. To apply to become a Unique Abilities Partner, click here.



What’s the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program?

Last year, Florida’s legislature passed a new bill creating the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program, which recognizes businesses that hire and support individuals living with disabilities.

Currently, Florida’s unemployment rate for those with unique abilities is higher than the national average and disproportionate across some regions of the state. The Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program was designed to help provide opportunities to those who are willing, ready and able to contribute to our workforce by raising awareness about the economic and social benefits of employing these individuals.

The Florida Unique Abilities Partner program will recognize businesses that provide much-needed opportunities to people with unique abilities. Qualifying partners will employ Florida residents with disabilities or contribute to local or national organizations that support individuals with disabilities.

Unique Abilities Partners will be able to display the program logo on marketing and advertising materials, receive name recognition on the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program website and special designation in the Employ Florida Marketplace (if currently listed), and have access to the Florida Unique Abilities Partner logo for commercial use. Participation also opens the door for businesses to network and partner with fellow designees, fostering new business opportunities and collaborations.

Several Florida employers have already signed on. To apply to become a Unique Abilities Partner, click here.

Want to learn more about the Unique Abilities Partner Program?

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Email: Unique Abilities Partners

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