There are approximately 1,450 individuals with special needs living in Hamilton County who need assistance finding a job according to Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services. Furthermore, 1,850 students with special needs will leave Cincinnati Public High Schools soon and begin their search for meaningful employment.
“The Genesis at Work Foundation was founded to address these challenges,” says Bryan Holland, who created the organization last year inspired by his son’s success. Scott, age 25, has Down syndrome.
Genesis at Work Foundation’s mission is to enrich lives and businesses by providing meaningful, customized employment for God’s beloved children with special needs. Individuals are employed based on their interests and passions to ensure their work is meaningful. For instance, Scott is passionate about sports and now works for the University of Cincinnati’s Facilities Management and Maintenance and Operations departments for five collegiate sports. He sets up for and works during games, stows sports equipment and resets the venue afterward.
The Foundation adheres to a customized employment process from Marc Gold & Associates, the industry pioneer in driving successful employment outcomes for persons with special needs. Based on the employment seeker’s determined strengths, needs and interests, customized employment strategies result in competitive inclusive employment.
It should be noted that all Genesis at Work Foundation services are provided at no cost for job seekers and their families. In addition, the Foundation supports people of all faiths and those without, and operates independently of government funding.
The foundation has three programs: Discovery, Inclusive Employers, and Genesis Pathway Support (GPS).
The Discovery Program, which takes a month to complete, is critical to the success of customized employment because it identifies a job seeker’s interests, skills, strengths, learning style and ideal work environment.
“Upon capturing this information, we create a customized plan for employment and a visual resume. Then we present job seekers to potential employers for work in inclusive environments,” says Holland. He notes that this comprehensive, qualitative research ensures success.
The Inclusive Employers Program works with companies in Greater Cincinnati, matching job seekers who have intellectual and developmental disabilities with area businesses. The founding businesses committed to hiring these job seekers include Pella Windows and Doors Cincinnati, Advance Dentistry, Folchi’s Tuxedos and Menswear, BGR Packaging Supply Chain Experts and The Rug Gallery, among others.
The Foundation provides training and job coaching for businesses, along with an employer needs/benefit analysis that identifies unmet business needs and tasks. Next, the Foundation creates customized positions to match the employees’ strengths and the companies’ needs. The group’s objective for this year is to establish partnerships with 12 companies, and nine have been confirmed so far.
Genesis Pathway Support provides families and caregivers the tools they need to navigate the challenges and frustrations in high school and post-high school employment.
“One of the tools is an online road map that outlines resources, tips and more for families in this transitioning space,” says Holland. “Some parents wonder if their son or daughter will ever find a job, and we are providing hope by sharing success stories, blog posts, online forums, and family mentoring.”
Although job placement is driven by the job seeker’s interests and talents, the Foundation also tries to find a convenient employment arrangement close to home.
“The idea is for these young adults to find a job where they may work for 5, 10 or 20 years,” Holland notes.
On Saturday, Oct. 7, the Genesis at Work Foundation will host the second annual Pella Cincinnati Celebration Gala at the Sharonville Convention Center. In addition to acknowledging October as
Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Gala will celebrate this year’s job seeker success stories and businesses participating in the Inclusive Employer Program. Pella is the title sponsor for the event.
Jim Frey, owner of Pella Windows and Doors Cincinnati, is proud to be a founding member of the Genesis at Work Inclusive Employers Program and eager to celebrate successes at this year’s Gala.
“I have known Scott Holland since he was three years old and have seen him develop into the inspiring young man he is today,” Frey says. “Scott energizes me every time I see him. Pella is excited to be a founding member of the Genesis at Work Inclusive Employers Program, helping fill job openings and diversify workforces.”
Last year’s inaugural Celebration Gala attracted over 250 guests and raised more than $80,000.
“Our goal is to secure $2 million in funding over 2023, 2024 and 2025 through foundations, individual donations, corporate sponsorships, and at our Celebration Gala,” says Holland. “Eighty percent of the income generated will go toward our three programs.”
Want to learn more about the Foundation or RSVP to the Celebration Gala? Visit genesisatwork.org.