Best Buddies Jobs: Transforming statistics into positive change for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
Best Buddies Jobs is one of the organization’s fast growing programs, and for good reason. Currently, 85% of individuals with developmental disabilities do not have a paid community job.* This is in spite of the fact that research shows that by hiring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), businesses gain dependable, motivated employees and create inclusive cultures that attract desirable talent. In addition, reports find that companies that hire people with IDD for business reasons and are rewarded with business benefits.** Still, almost 43% of people with IDD in the US are living below the poverty line and only 15.5% of these individuals are working; of that, only 19.1% of people with IDD in the US are working in integrated community settings.***
Best Buddies Jobs seeks to transform these statistics into positive change and inclusive opportunities for people with IDD. Over the past few years, the Jobs program has made a significant impact in the disability community; the program has grown into 12 markets nationwide, providing opportunities for independence and financial freedom to employees from Los Angeles to Miami with the support of Best Buddies staff. In Chicago, the program has seen substantial growth recently as employers who have hired individuals with IDD in the community are eager to spread the positive impact these employees have had on their company, culture, and bottom line.
In March , the Chicago Tribune published an article on the success of the Best Buddies Jobs program, specifically highlighting the employment of Shalonda Sanders at Seyfarth Shaw, one of the city’s largest law firms. The article celebrates Sanders’ work ethic, influence on the company’s culture and growth, and promotes awareness for the Best Buddies Jobs program in Chicago, which was just started last year.
In Boston, Best Buddies Jobs regularly celebrates the growth and opportunity the program has provided to individuals in New England. On December 15, 2014 Natixis Global Asset Management was honored by Best Buddies Massachusetts as the 2014 Employer Partner of the Year at the annual Evening of Opportunity. In addition, Untwon Jones, a Best Buddies Jobs participant and Natixis employee for over three years, was honored as the 2014 Employee of the Year. Learn more about this partnership by watching their promotional video below.
Additionally, the Best Buddies Jobs program recently partnered with Hobbs Brook Management. Hobbs Brook Management has been a pioneer in the development of premier office space in the Boston suburbs, building trusted relationships with tenants who rely on them to provide sustainable, high-quality office environments and excellent customer service. The Best Buddies Jobs program has placed an employee in the dining services of one of their buildings outside Boston. Corporate Executive Chef, Paul, shared his feedback on the Jobs program and his work with Ruben, who was hired to run the dishes through the machine, wipe down tables, help to stock the refrigerators, help with various upkeep and tasks in the kitchen and cafeteria.
What does Best Buddies mean to you?
Paul first got involved because of his wife. Her son had autism and she was riding in the Best Buddies Challenge to raise funds and awareness for Best Buddies; this was Paul’s first exposure to the organization. He went on to learn that “we’re all different. You accept those differences because you know we all have something to offer.”
What’s your favorite thing about Best Buddies Jobs?
It gives somebody the opportunity to be the best they can be.
What does it mean to you to have an employee with IDD?
The loyalty and dedication shown by the individual are an inspiration to some of us that take a lot of things for granted.
Why do you think others should join Best Buddies Jobs and hire people with IDD?
It shows a commitment to breaking down the barriers of differences.
How would you encourage people to get involved?
Experience the events, take an afternoon to go out and support the riders who participate in the national Best Buddies Challenges and learn about the cause. See the mission in action. The immediate successes of what the money raised for these individuals is clear. A $10 donation to the program isn’t that much to most of us, but 1,000 donations of this size is a tremendous asset to the company.”
*Source: National Core Indicators, 2012-2013
**Source: i4cp report 2014
*** Source: American Community Survey