Employer Focused Employment: "The PA Employment Project"

The Sierra Group Foundation was awarded the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council multi-year statewide employment grant to develop employer led employment of people with developmental disabilities. This grant will enable the Sierra Group Foundation to:

  • Cause fundamental change by reaching and educating significant numbers of employers who are not informed about the benefits of employing individuals with developmental and other disabilities;
  • Stimulate a culture shift wherein they will welcome peer-to-peer support in disability-related hiring practices;
  • Disseminate training/tools regarding valuable hiring incentives; and
  • Connect hiring managers with qualified job candidates with developmental disabilities.

Our innovative program model includes collaboration with our longstanding and vast network of businesses who already value employees with developmental disabilities to serve as peer mentors.

PA Employer Focused Employment Brochure PDF

9/14/16 - "Philadelphia Abilities ERG Forum"

How are ERG’s, Employee Resource Groups, for people with Disabilities being utilized to reduce stigma and promote empoloyment. (space is limited - preregistration required)

Our foundation is working with our mentor partner at Comcast to explore this concept. A follow-up meeting will be announced to explore the findings of the Forum. Contact us if you are interested in participating.

2016 Job Fair for People with Disabilities

Part of our grant outreach is to bring employers what they want, training as well as candidates! Our employer mentors will mingle and train with new employers at the GRANT related lunchtime training session on May 11, 2016.

Follow up training will be facilitated at the end of the day where grant facilitator Janet Fiore will lead a discussion between our OVR Employment First partners and the Employer Mentors and new employers to our project will be invited to continue their involvement.

"Together, we are driving up employment for people with disabilities, including veterans!"

Seminar: Employment and Disability — The People, Challenges, and Opportunities


Wednesday, November 9, 2016 9:00 am – 10:30 am
The Pyramid Club 52nd Floor
1735 Market St, Philadelphia PA

Complimentary breakfast will be served.

Expert Speaker:
Michael Furman, SPHR, SHRM – SCP, Mentor
Principal Consultant with HR ReSolve.

For more information and to register.

Successful events have recently included:

How To Effectively Accommodate Disabilities in the Workplace Webinar

5 Signs Your Doors are Open to Employees with Disabilities Keys to Inclusive Cultures

Job Fair March 2014

What Employers are Saying:

UPENN Beverly Carter with Janet Fiore
UPENN Beverly Carter with Janet Fiore at 2016 Job Fair

"Locks Law Firm has had the opportunity to work with 3 students from the Sierra Group. All three have brought value and much needed assistance to our organization during their internship. In fact, we were so impressed, that we hired one of the students at the end of her internship. She has continued to do excellent work and her duties have broadened with her time here. Working with the Sierra Group has opened the eyes of many [employees at Locks Law Firm] to see the opportunities available by hiring persons with disabilities and if we had the need for additional staff, would welcome the opportunity to work with the Sierra Group again."
       Janet Lewis, Director of Human Resources, Locks Law Firm

Locks Law Firm, one of our Employer mentees who has become a mentor through our Grant that is funded by the PA Developmental Disabilities council is so happy with the employees with disabilities that they are meeting that they posted about their experience on their blog. Read their blog post Enriching Law Firm Culture through Equal Employment.

Why our business Includes workers with disabilities

"as a commercial real estate broker I work with companies and their employees all across Southeastern Pennsylvania. I'm always impressed with the quality of work done by employees who are people with disabilities. From all walks of live, and in many different job titles, thanks to my involvement in the Sierra Group Foundation's Employment Grant I have had the chance to talk with and encourage other businesses to open their recruiting channels to include hiring people with disabilities. I know from my own experiences that the talent is ready and willing to do a good job! ABILITY!"
       Elaine Battaglia, Associate Director, Savills Studley

Beverly Carter – Recruitment with University of Pennsylvania

Text Transcript Beverly Carter

Colleen Murphy – Recruitment with Extended Stay America

Text Transcript Colleen Murphy

Hiring and Disability from PhillyCAM on Vimeo.

The Sierra Group Foundation discusses hiring and disability with Jill Fisher, Esq and Janet Fiore. Learn first-hand ways to obtain Financial Incentives from the Government, Recruit, Hire and Retain Workers with Disabilities; Meet Diversity Hiring Goals.

Janet Fiore interviews Robert, who returned to work after 5 years out of the workplace due to disability:

Janet Fiore speaks with Lucy, who got a full-time position with Comcast:

Janet Fiore speaks with Susan, who achieved long-term employment doing call center helpdesk work:

Susan Graham selected as a recipient of the UniqueSource 2016 Embrace the Abilities Achievement Award. Read the award letter PDF.

Disability Resource Toolkit (links open in a new browser tab/window)

The following resources have been created in part through funds from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council. The other resources are compiled by Grant project staff at Sierra Group from various outside resources, and described as to why they may provide value to employers looking to increase their employment and retention of workers with developmental and other disabilities.

Sierra Group Foundation Resources

An Article on the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act by Janet Fiore, and Jill Fisher, Esquire (a project mentor): http://www.thesierragroup.com/assets/documents/Counterpoint_JULY-09.pdf

Sierra Group Foundation’s national web-portal listing Financial Incentives for Hiring EmploymentIncentives.org: http://employmentincentives.com/assets/documents/EMPLOYMENT_INCENTIVES_org.pdf

Video Interview of Jill Fisher, Esquire: "Hiring and Disability" (rebroadcast): https://vimeo.com/147598762

Video Interview of a person with a disability 9 months after gaining her job as a customer service helpdesk agent: https://youtu.be/BUkBwtPbuFw

Check your knowledge of accommodation by taking our accommodation quiz.

Other Resources

"In our quest to radically change attitudes and reduce stigma regarding the employability of people with disabilities, we are pleased to see our President issuing a Proclamation acknowledging that much work remains to be done to reach greater inclusion": Presidential Proclamation – National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2016

Take the Stigma Quiz

Short videos depicting Web Accessibility perspectives on things like keyboard access, color choices and more: https://www.w3.org/WAI/perspectives/

A Grant event participant from Ernst & Young shared a section on their website rich with disability related accessibility resources. Current link is: http://www.ey.com/US/en/About-us/Our-people-and-culture/Diversity-and-inclusiveness/Unleashing-our-full-abilities--4--Resources

US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability & Employment Policy: www.dol.gov/odep

US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs 7% Disability Hiring Rule: http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/section503.htm

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Disability (EEOC): http://eeoc.gov/

EEOC ADA related Information for Temporary Agencies: http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/qanda-contingent.html

Online/Remote Interpreter Services provider: www.purple.us

PA State Agency providing training and assistance to employers and individuals with disabilities seeking employment – Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR): www.dli.state.pa.us

OVR Directory of Regional Offices for the state of Pennsylvania: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=606620&mode=2

Interviewee Video depicting Alex and what happens if someone forgets to request an accommposted Juneodation: http://youtu.be/GsjsG7mdKlo

Free Resource about finding accommodations for Employers, Job Accommodation Network: http://askjan.org

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has posted a short video entitled Disability Inclusion Starts With You. The video is available online for viewing or download at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/SelfIdVideo.html, and can also be accessed from either the OFCCP home page or the OFCCP Section 503 Web page.

National Trends in Disability Employment, news and updates from the field of Disability (or nTIDE) Lunch & Learn webinar series: http://www.researchondisability.org/home/ntide

Low Cost, High Impact Workplace Accommodations: http://askjan.org/media/LowCostHighImpact.html