Autism Speaks is celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month through October, and has numerous resources and information available! Please click on this link to read more about re-thinking employment.
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In 2008, two mothers saw a gap in support services for young adults with learning challenges and disabilities. They decided to partner in founding Options for College Success to fill this gap.
WGN presented a story about a Chicago mother who also saw a gap, specifically in opportunities for individuals with autism in Latino communities, so she decided to create her own business to fill this gap! Please click the link below to get the details and explore the opportunities created!
Young people with autism find sweet success in Chicago mom’s enterprise
Options for College Success was founded in 2009 by two mothers with a mission of supporting post- secondary students with learning challenges to be successful in college. After working in the education field, both realized there were many students with learning challenges that were not receiving the support needed within the school system and decided they needed to intervene and help those students. Over the years the mission developed into the more comprehensive program it is today, including finance skill building, independent living skills, social skills, vocational support, and providing social event opportunities. These women had a vision and worked tirelessly to bring it to fruition.
As both of our founder’s have now retired, we wanted to highlight these incredible individuals that created this strong community, the Options for College Success family.
Christine Anderson worked in the education field for over 40 years. She began in an inner-city school in Savannah, Georgia. She then transferred to the Savannah Association for Children with Specific Learning Disabilities. After raising her family in the Chicago area, Christine returned to the workforce, first as a director for an alternative high school and then as a director for a national program for young adults with learning challenges. The drive to advocate and support this population has been a passion of Christine’s. Christine stepped down from her role as Executive Director in January of 2018. She continues her dedication to the community, co-creating and launching an app, Glimmer (www.glimmerconnect.com), with her son.
Shoshana Axler, born and raised in Chicago, was a classroom teacher as well as a mentor for many years in the Chicago area. She earned a master’s degree from Rhode Island College in education. Her commitment to the success of young adults creates an ongoing connection with all students and families she has served. Shoshana spent several years fundraising for cancer research and then returned to the field of education. Shoshana is the mother of 3 grown children and many grandchildren. Shoshana retired this last week and will be moving to be with her family in Israel. Shoshana’s generosity, dedication to community, and enthusiasm is profound, and it runs deep within the foundation of our organization.
We are forever grateful to our founders! We will always continue the mission set forth by these brilliant women! The Options for College Success family wishes Christine and Shoshana joy and happiness as they embark on their new journey!
There has been a spotlight for a few years now focusing on hiring individuals with disabilities, including individuals on the autism spectrum. Those of us lucky enough to work with individuals with disabilities know how valuable they can be to various companies and organizations! We need to spread the word to businesses that they are missing out on a pool of applicants!
Let’s change up the employment process and check biases at the door to decrease the unemployment rate among individuals with disabilities!
Hiring those with disabilities isn’t charity, it’s good business
Our organization came across an interesting article from The New York Times Magazine. A soldier wrote about her experience as an active duty soldier in the army, navigating her military dream with a learning disability.
We focus our work on developing grit and perseverance. These qualities provided Ms. Zephrine with a strong foundation to realize her dream of joining the army, and obtaining her master’s degree in social work.
We are sharing this story as a way to showcase the life experiences told firsthand by individuals with learning disabilities and other challenges. Please note that this is one person’s experience.
Obtaining employment as an individual with special needs is a challenge to say the least. Think about all of the elements involved in seeking out employment and being hired: the job search, resume, cover letter, follow up, phone and in-person interviews, becoming accustomed with a new routine and new faces.
Employment provides one with a feeling of fulfillment, the ability to be independent, developing new relationships, and face new challenges. Challenge help people grow.
Please read the article below from the Chicago Tribune. Thank you EY for re-thinking your hiring processes and employment opportunities!
Options for College Success provides services and support to fill the gap for individuals with learning challenges and disabilities aging out of the school system and launching into their next journey. These individuals stop receiving services through the state between 18 and 22 years of age. Where do they go next?
These individuals may not be ready for post-secondary schooling nor have the skills to be employed. Employment rates for those with disabilities are very low, and educational attainment is essential to the success of young adults with disabilities because the jobs of the future require technical training and education. Based on the 2017 Disability Statistics Annual Report from the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Statistics and Demographics, in the U.S. 35.9% of individuals aged 18-64 with disabilities were employed versus 76.6% of those without a disability.
At our organization, we customize an individual’s plan based on where they currently are at in development and what goals they look to achieve. We fill the gaps with hands on, one on one support to provide them with the opportunity to live a healthy, productive and independent life.
Please donate to Options for College Success on this day and as we move into the holiday season. We want to improve and expand our programming to fit the increasing needs of the population we work with. Your gift, no matter the size, will directly impact the success of our students.
Please visit www.optionsforcollegesuccess.org and click on our donate button at the bottom of the page or send a check payable to Options for College Success.
Options for College Success
1515 maple Ave. Suite 190
Evanston, IL 60201