Add Us In Chicagoland Consortium

Jobs for Youth: A Partnership to Promote Employment of Inner-City Youth with Disabilities

This project has two main goals: first, to identify and develop strategies to increase the capacity of small businesses and communities, to employ youth and adults with disabilities, and second, to enhance the opportunities and skills of individuals with disabilities pursuing employment or self-employment.

The Center on Capacity Building for Minorities with Disabilities Research will evaluate the project and is coordinating its overall implementation. Moreover, we plan to disseminate relevant information to small businesses and service providers about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities around the country.

Add Us In Initiative Website


Federacion Jalicience del Medio Oeste de los Estados Unidos (FEDEJAL)


FEDEJAL, a federation of small Mexican business owners, is recruiting and coordinating volunteer business owners who will mentor participants in the preparation of business plans for starting small businesses. They have continued their outreach efforts and to educate their members on the benefits of hiring a person with a disability. They have found interest amongst a couple of restaurant owners in their organization that are interested in hiring people with disabilities or doing OJT at their restaurants. FEDEJAL has also created a database of their members which can be used to match the skills and abilities of our participants with potential employers from FEDEJAL.



Youth Connection Charter School (YCCS)


The Youth Connection Charter School is the largest high school for dropout recovery in the city, serving 4,000 students who had previously dropped out of the Chicago Public Schools and are now pursuing a high school diploma. YCCS is a nationally recognized model for alternative education with quality academic and support services, providing tools to empower at‐risk students and high school dropouts to graduate and become productive members of society. Over the past 14 years, YCCS has achieved average retention rates of 69%, average attendance rates of 78%, and average annual grade gains, amongst the stable student body, of 1.7 years in math and 1.76 years in reading. To date, YCCS has graduated over 10,000 students. YCCS enrolls youth with disabilities in vocational training programs and collaborates with FEDEJAL and DRS (The Division of Rehabilitation Services of Illinois) to connect with mentors to develop proposals for small businesses.

YCCS Website

Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) of Illinois

The Division of Rehabilitation Services of Illinois is the vocational rehabilitation agency of the state. DRS has offered to provide additional financial support (up to $5,000 per consumer) to the business plans recommended for funding. The VR portion of the financial support will not have to be repaid. Two years ago, DRS was able to provide financial support to FEDEJAL and SCHWAB with the stimulus funding from ARRA. DRS has the capacity to provide continuity of funding to the initiatives that are going to be pilot tested and evaluated through this cooperative agreement, including funds for self-employment.

DRS Website


ICRE-R which has been with the consortium since June 2012 and has been working fiercely since joining to create and get funding for their vocational training and business incubator program has received DRS proposal and funding for a 5 year demonstration project. They are currently submitted a final request for proposal (RFP) for the program which is under review and will go out for bids to contractors. They hope to have the program fully funded and operational by the end of summer 2013. As a result of their great work at ICRE-R, DRS is looking to create two other sites in the Chicagoland area to serve as business incubator sites for their clients.

ICRE-R Website


SCHWAB is a 126-bed rehabilitation hospital that serves individuals with disabilities, including those who have experienced a violence-induced spinal cord injury (VASCI). SCHWAB collaborates with FEDEJAL and DRS in order to place interested participants in contact with small business owners so they can develop proposals for small businesses or to find a job Schwab is a nationally recognized physical medicine and rehabilitation facility that provides a comprehensive array of rehabilitation services including; advocacy, community-based disability education and prevention programs, as well as support groups to a predominantly low-income African American and Latino population in Chicago.

Most of the hospital’s VASCI patients are injured as a result of gun violence. The hospital is located in a community whose residents experience a host of poverty-related problems including high unemployment, low educational attainment, poor housing, and a lack of the adequate support systems necessary to ensure appropriate physical and mental health. The Extended Services department at Schwab facilitates positive reintegration into the community for people with newly acquired SCI through programs including peer-mentoring (hiring former patients as mentors) and educational services (hiring former patients as violence prevention advocates in the community). The hospital started the peer mentoring program for VASCI inpatients ten years ago in collaboration with the team from UIC. The hospital will use these funds to expand the peer mentoring program to former patients who are often disconnected from services and community supports. Mentors are required to have weekly contact with their mentees and they also meet with a supervisor as a group, which provides them an opportunity to network, and receive feedback about ways to proceed with their mentees, and learn to solve problems as needed. The team from SCHWAB will collaborate with FEDEJAL and DRS in order to place interested participants in contact with small business owners so they can develop proposals for small businesses or to find jobs.

SCHWAB Website

Asians with Disabilities Outreach Project Think Tank (ADOPT)

The Asians with Disabilities Outreach Project Think Tank has been organizing the Asian community in Chicago during the last 18 months and now has a coalition of over 45 different social service agencies and Pan-Asian business associations that are becoming aware of the importance of providing services and employment opportunities to Asians with disabilities. ADOPT was an initiative of our Center supported with ARRA funding from DRS, and the project continues to expand with ongoing support from DRS. That is why we are not requesting funding to support ADOPT at this time. The agencies involved in ADOPT will refer participants to the project and connect with small business owners. They will also continue to increase awareness in the Asian business community about the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities.


Shawn Dimpfl
Project Coordinator
Center for Capacity Building for Minorities with Disabilities Research
Department of Disability and Human Development
University of Illinois at Chicago (M/C 626)
1640 W. Roosevelt Rd.
Chicago, IL 60608
Phone: 312-413-8993
Fax: 312-413-1804
TDD: 312-413-0453