Global Employment Grant Winners thriving in communities across US | Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Global Employment Grant Winners thriving in communities across US

Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin (DSAW)
Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area
GraceSigns
The Up Side of Downs of Northeast Ohio (USOD)

Initiated in 2016, Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s Self-Advocate Employment Initiative Grants have empowered local Down syndrome organizations to help hire 32 individuals with Down syndrome. The accomplishments of the organizations and the individuals they employ are creating significant impacts in their communities across the nation.

Global is so proud to be able to support these wonderful member organizations through the Employment Grants. The Grants will be offered again next year and applications will open in December 2017. Eligibility to receive an Employment Initiative Grant is just one of the benefits of Global membership.


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Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin (DSAW)

In 2016 DSAW used the funds from Global’s grant to support Andrew’s Voice— a business run by Andrew Gerbitz, a Self-Advocate, that brings Down syndrome awareness, mentoring, and self-advocacy to different communities. Andrew’s Voice allows Andrew the opportunity to make a job out of something he loves to do, speak in public on behalf of those impacted by Down syndrome.

Andrew shares his excitement to be involved with these presentations:

“I love DSAW because they do so many amazing things for my life. DSAW helps me with my business, Andrew’s Voice, like at the Milwaukee County Zoo when I got to share about my business. I like doing the Peer Sensitivity Trainings and being a motivational speaker to teach other people that we are more alike than different. Going to schools to speak is fun especially because I like working with kids. Speaking at the Golf Outing was a huge success. It is a great to be with other self-advocates. Going to La Crosse to speak was another good memory. Helping with DSAW is fun because I get to hang out with my friends and other self-advocates. I like to be a good role model and help others. Being on the DSAW board is very important to me and helping out with DSAW events”— Andrew Gerbitz.


Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area

After a successful first grant year, Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area (DSCBA) will employ several self-advocates. Support from Global in 2016 allowed four associates to grow their professional and personal skills. In 2017 the grant will continue to enable the initial four employees expand their responsibilities, in addition add a fifth employee.

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  • In 2016 Eli conducted 22 ability awareness presentations in Bay Area schools reaching more than 1,000 students and nearly 70 adults – throughout different grade levels – who have a  classmate with Down syndrome. As the Ability Awareness Associate, Eli’s new tasks will include participating in some DSCBA support groups and supporting the technology portion of his  awareness presentations.
  • Not only did Marissa become more engaged in her role as an ambassador, but she became a master of public engagement through PowerPoint presentations and visual cues. In 2017, as the Community Outreach Associate she will create a social media campaign to give her the opportunity to use her voice creatively.
  •  Gaining more independence in her job tasks is one of the biggest accomplishments K. Leigh gained as the DSCBA Assistant Teacher. K. Leigh’s new tasks include leading circle time with kids, and she will be assigned specific children who she can provide one-on-one support to.
  • Joseph, the Administrative Assistant, took initiative in 2016 by seeking assistance when he was stuck on tasks— like preparing mailers and medical outreach packets. As Joseph’s confidence continues to grow in 2017 his new tasks will include increasing his efficiency and being able to accept coaching from co-workers in a constructive and professional manner.
  • The grant money was so helpful DSCBA was able to add a fifth employee— Malia— to their staff in 2017. Malia reports directly to DSCBA Director of New Family Services, Nancy Ferguson, and she is responsible for assembling the organizations new parents packs and with materials as needed.

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GraceSigns

GraceSigns is making major strides in communication opportunities for kids with and without disabilities. The mission of the non-profit is to teach sign language in a way that is easy, accessible, and fun! Photos taken at a GraceSigns filming session for the Sign Me a Song Project show how busy the organization is in fulfilling this mission.

With Global’s grant the organization has expanded and continue their subcontract with Futures Explored, Inc.—an organization that employs adults with developmental disabilities. Futures Explored helps with the production and filming of GraceSigns’ signing videos and hires adults with Down syndrome to assist with camera work, sound set up, and videotaping.

Sign Me A Song, like GraceSigns first app Sign Me A Story, embeds sign language into stories and songs— a learning technique GraceSigns founder Valerie R. Carter believes is a more successful approach in teaching sign language.


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The Up Side of Downs of Northeast Ohio (USOD)

Global’s grant played an instrumental role in helping the Up Side of Downs of Northeast Ohio blossom in the Independence, OH community— and will continue to in 2017.2016 was a banner year for USOD, and Global is thrilled to have supported their growth. Carrie is an Office Assistant with USOD who helps with data entry, builds new parent packets, and prepare for events and USOD’s learning program. In May 2016 Carrie’s duties expanded to handling inventory when USOD opened their unique gift shop filled with treasures created by individuals with Down syndrome, Artful 21. With the success of Artful 21, USOD hired two additional self-advocates — Tiffany and Shira.

“I learn so much from this job. I like the computer, data entry work. I like doing any tasks that I am given. I support the Up Side of Downs because I have Down syndrome,” Carrie said. “Mine was one of the original families and I feel attached in a way to the Up Side of Downs. I never thought I’d be working here and I’ve been here two years. It’s the best. I learn from everyone here. Working on the computer here has helped me with my other job at the Cleveland Clinic.”

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