Celebrate Innovation in Employment on May 11th!

SEARCH TRAILBLAZERS: Innovation Celebration! is coming up quickly on Thursday, May 11th!  We are looking forward to a celebratory evening at Galleria Marchetti with cocktails, fun foods, delicious desserts, awards, and a silent auction. Rob Johnson from CBS 2 Chicago will be returning to emcee the event and the Andy Pratt Trio will entertain guests with live jazz. Registration is now open if you would like to attend or click here to find out more about the event!

This year, we are celebrating Innovation in Employment at SEARCH TRAILBLAZERS. We’re thrilled to honor three of our employment partners – ComEd, Hewn, and the zen of slow cooking – with the 2017 Trailblazer Award.  These three businesses have been instrumental partners in blazing new pathways to employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The unemployment rate for people with a disability is more than double than for those without. But a growing number of businesses are making a commitment to disability inclusive employment. These employers hold the key to solving low employment rates for people with disabilities. ComEd, Hewn, and the zen of slow cooking are among these businesses.

ComEd understands that an inclusive workforce benefits everyone, including individuals with disabilities, businesses and their customers, and the broader community. ComEd’s Energy Force Program, the country’s first energy-efficiency program designed for and taught by people with disabilities, develops important job skills, and builds social capital and professional connections among its participants. Finding a job, for people of all abilities, starts with good connections.

Hewn Bakery, located in downtown Evanston, is a model of disability inclusive employment in the community. Search participant Anton has worked at Hewn for two years and his experience has been overwhelmingly positive (he blogged here about getting a raise). Hewn’s collaboration with Anton sets an example for other businesses in the local community and beyond.

the zen of slow cooking is a small business founded by Meg Barnhart and Jane McKay. Meg wanted to create a business that could employ individuals with developmental disabilities like her son Doug.  Through a partnership with Search’s Planet Access Company (PAC) warehouse, that vision is now a reality. the zen of slow cooking’s slow-cooker spice infusions bring zen to the home cook and provide job training and paid work for people with disabilities through the PAC warehouse.

Together, the 2017 Trailblazer honorees exemplify the power and promise of innovative employment strategies.

In the past few years, Search has made substantial progress in expanding employment opportunities for the people we serve. Our activities were kick started by a generous investment from The Coleman Foundation that resulted in new competitive employment opportunities at the PAC Warehouse (read this story for more). Other strategic investments and program expansion have resulted in a steady growth in individuals who are employed and participating in work training programs. In the last four years, the number of individuals who receive community employment services from Search has grown by more than 50%. For individuals who have a job, like Matthew, working brings meaningful emotional, social, and financial rewards.

We are so thankful to our many partners and to our 2017 Trailblazer Award Honorees who are making it possible for people with disabilities to find new opportunities in the workplace.

Please join us on Thursday, May 11th to celebrate inspirational stories of people with disabilities working in the community! All proceeds from SEARCH TRAILBLAZERS 2017 will benefit Search's important direct services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Find out more about the event:
Click here to register to attend the event (or to make a donation if you're unable to attend)!
Click here to learn more!

Read more employment stories:
Meet Tracey (Q&A)
Meet Matthew (Q&A)
Coleman Partnership (featuring Kristina)
Anton Gets Hired at Hewn
Anton Gets a Raise
ComEd Energy Force Program “An Amazing Box of Opportunity”
ComEd Energy Force Ambassador Visits Brookfield Zoo