UMass Medical School’s Work Without Limits, a statewide network dedicated to advancing the employment of people with disabilities, is linking with Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) to offer e-mentoring to Massachusetts community college students with disabilities.
According to the Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, people with disabilities continue to have an unemployment rate over two times that of people without disabilities. While higher education often improves employment opportunities, college graduates continue to face barriers when seeking employment, which can lead to unemployment or underemployment.
“We are honored to join Partners for Youth with Disabilities and Business Leadership Networks in four other states to launch this exciting new e-mentoring model,” Work Without Limits Director Kathleen A. Petkauskos said. “We are committed to increase the employment rate among individuals with disabilities, and believe that mentoring plays an important role.”
Massachusetts is one of five states that will be participating in the online, professional mentoring program. The program is funded by a three-year grant from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation and is expected to offer e-mentoring to 330 young adults across the five states.
Work Without Limits will participate in the program through its Massachusetts Business Leadership Network (MABLN), an affiliate of the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN). The MABLN is a network of employers from the public and private sectors committed to diversity and inclusion.
The other partners include the Connecticut Business Leadership Network, the Maine Business Leadership Network in partnership with the Maine Chamber of Commerce, the Unita County Business Leadership Network in Wyoming and the Greater Kansas City Leadership Network.
Community college students will access professional and peer mentors to increase their networks, receive advice, and gather support about achieving goals. They will also participate in topical webinars related to employment readiness, and engage in live networking and interview fairs hosted by the Business Leadership Networks.
According to Regina Snowden, founder and executive director of Partners for Youth with Disabilities, “For 31 years, PYD has witnessed the transformative power of mentoring in the lives of youth and young adults with disabilities in their efforts to gain employment and achieve independence. We are thrilled to be expanding our program model beyond Massachusetts through e-Mentoring. We know that this effort between many collaborating partners will result in increased employment opportunities for the participating young adults.”