COLUMBIA — A pilot program aimed at helping young people with disabilities find jobs will soon take shape thanks to a $65,000 grant from "Show-Me-Careers," a group of disability-related organizations administering a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Senior Services.
The three-and-a-half year Show-Me-Careers program is meant to help youth transition from school to the workplace, said Mark Satterwhite, director of Work and Life Connections at Boone County Family Resources.
As one of eight "pilot communities" supported by the statewide Show-Me-Careers school to career initiative, Columbia was chosen through a competitive application process to test ideas on how to bring lasting change, Satterwhite said.
“The grant money will be used primarily to engage and to inform local businesses about the largely untapped workforce represented by young people with developmental disabilities,” Satterwhite said.
Local organizations involved in the pilot program include Alternative Community Training, Services for Independent Living, Columbia Public Schools, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Boone County Family Resources.
“The unemployment rate for youth with disabilities is substantially higher than for others in the general public," Satterwhite said. "People sometimes assume ‘disability’ means ‘can’t do.’ That’s not at all the case, as some local businesses already know.”