Catalyst

AHEDD: A Resource to Find and Keep Diverse Talent

Businesses that employ people with disabilities not only fill available labor needs, but often realize additional benefits and business opportunities. Employees with disabilities often assist companies in reaching NEW markets, suggesting product and process improvements, improving an organization's turnover rates and much more.

 

AHEDD is a private, nonprofit specialized human resource organization which began in 1977 and can be a valuable resource to companies that are seeking to find and keep diverse talent and customers.

 

AHEDD’s mission is to serve the community as a catalyst in the employment and development of people with disabilities. Our passion for community employment includes support for youth and adults with all types of disabilities, including physical and cognitive. Those served come from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds with varying levels of educational achievement and work experience.

 

Based in Camp Hill, PA, AHEDD has a network of field offices which delivers its employment services to youth and adults across much of Pennsylvania. With a workforce of only about 70 employees, about 85 percent of our staff are on the front line supporting both individuals and businesses and are proud to be focused on delivering successful outcomes and quality services. We are committed to not only helping individuals find suitable job matches, but we also desire to help program participants overcome barriers, retain their employment and move toward greater financial independence.

 

A closer look at our most recent outcomes reveal that our small agency has a large impact. Last year, our team provided employment services to a total of 2,221 individuals in the Commonwealth. At least 397 program participants started working during the year, and more than 63 percent were still working 12 months later. In addition, 472 people received guidance on how to maximize their SSA work incentives, which can give them the opportunity to attempt success in the workplace and/or gradually work toward a higher level of income. Our estimated Return on Investment was also about $5.65 for every dollar spent. 

 

While we know these numbers help to quantify our successes, feedback from program participants and other partners helps to paint the picture of AHEDD’s impact. When 300 program participants were surveyed in 2018, 72 percent were happy with AHEDD’s services and 79 percent were willing to tell others about AHEDD. Over 90 percent of the businesses we surveyed agreed that AHEDD’s candidates were qualified for the positions sought; and 100 percent felt that AHEDD’s participants conducted themselves professionally through the application process.

 

One of AHEDD’s recent successful candidates, Charles, is a veteran and shared his thoughts on our services and impact:

 

“After nine years of being on SSDI, I finally felt more in control of my disability and wanted to get back to the workforce. I looked online for agencies that help people with disabilities obtain employment and found the agency AHEDD. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I made an appointment and boy, was I surprised. From the very first day I met my Employment Specialist, she made me feel everything but disabled and that anything was possible. She explained that having a disability was not about what I can’t do, but what it is that I can do. She was very understanding and supportive of my situation. She was also very knowledgeable and helped me look for positions that were within my capabilities. She also helped me with all the paperwork pertaining to the Ticket to Work Program and my responsibility to report my earnings. This experience has changed my life.  I got back the quality of life and self-worth I so desperately needed. I’ve been back in the workforce for over four months and couldn’t be happier.  I’ve made new friends, laugh a lot more and am proud of the accomplishments I have achieved. Thank you, AHEDD, for helping me to get my life back!!”

 

What can AHEDD specifically provide to employers?

 

  • An extensive network of qualified candidates throughout PA who are pre-screened regarding their interests and abilities;
  • On-site support to ensure that an employee performs the required job duties to a business’s expectations;
  • Professional ongoing assistance for the successful retention of the company’s employees;
  • Coordination/delivery of training (disability awareness, legislation and more);
  • Identification of financial incentives and other resources available when hiring a diverse workforce;
  • Guidance on reasonable accommodations; and
  • Connection to our business-to-business initiative, Disability:IN Pennsylvania, and other Disability:IN affiliates which offer examples of best practices, opportunities for positive public relations and access to business peers that have had success in hiring people with disabilities.

 

What are the Ways Businesses Can Get Involved?

 

  • Notify AHEDD of available job openings;
  • Conduct practice interviews (with or without AHEDD’s guidance) for our program participants;
  • Serve as a host for assessments and/or short term work experiences for program participants, including in-school youth;
  • Join Disability:IN Pennsylvania to network with other businesses and gain other benefits;
  • Consider becoming a board member to lend your business expertise;
  • Make financial contributions to assist AHEDD in providing youth with work experience before graduation, offering needed employment retention support to those with jobs, or guiding individuals to explore their work interests and abilities;
  • Partner with AHEDD to better recruit diversity and provide longer term supports within your workplace under our Administrative Employment Network agreement with the Social Security Administration; and
  • Assist AHEDD in developing relationships with other community leaders and businesses.

 
Connect with us for additional information at http://www.ahedd.org, call 866 902.4333, or email inforequest@ahedd.org.

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Founded in 1916, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.