Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

RAISE is rolling into creation


Last month the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando (JFGO) announced a new program, RAISE, that will be offering part-time, paid, work experiences to adults with special needs at participating agencies.

RAISE—Recognizing Abilities and Inclusion of Special Employees—scheduled to begin in March, is currently enrolling applicants ages 18 or older. For further information, please visit http://www.JFGO.org/RAISE.aspx. Interested applicants may apply online at the website.

RAISE not only provides a work experience within the Jewish community for adults with special needs, it also serves as a launching pad to employment opportunities in the community at large. Working at participating agencies is intended to help prepare employees for an easy transition to work in the Greater Orlando community.

When a new RAISE employee begins employment, the program will introduce and work alongside Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and then with local job placement centers. In other words, at the same time employees are working, they will also be a client of VR and ultimately a job placement center. These two processes will continue side-by-side with the intention of securing a job in the community.

According to Loren London, RAISE program coordinator, in addition to providing professional assessment, supervision and meaningful employment opportunities, there are three aspects to RAISE that matter most: inclusion, collaboration and awareness.

“I believe that creating a culture of inclusion and acceptance is the backbone of RAISE. Collaboration, partnering agencies working in tandem with JFGO to provide employment opportunities, is essential for RAISE to flourish,” said London.

Lastly, RAISE assists in bringing awareness. Many families are not familiar with state-provided or community services that are available to them. RAISE will help families by serving as an educational experience and bridge to services from the time of application.

VR is a federal and state program that helps people who have physical or mental disabilities get or keep a job. VR is committed to helping individuals with disabilities find meaningful careers. A person with disabilities must participate in VR as a first step, if they want the assistance and state support services—including job placement. Connecting with VR is also a prerequisite introduced in the RAISE application.

RAISE will work alongside Two 6 Resources, Inc., one of several vocational placement agencies in our community that help individuals with disabilities prepare for, obtain, keep and/or regain employment in the community at large. The goal of Two 6 Resources, Inc. is to help link prospective community employers in the competitive job market with qualified RAISE job applicants.

Initially, RAISE will pilot this program with three to five job placement opportunities for community members. New employees will be accepted into the program every six months thereafter as job openings become available and as former employees find new permanent employment in the community. The length of RAISE employment will vary per employee and will be at the discretion of the RAISE team of professionals. It is anticipated that a majority of employees will remain in the program for up to one year. 

“From day one it has been so rewarding to feel the support of all the agencies for RAISE and its mission,” said London. RAISE is particularly grateful to Jewish Family Services (JFS). JFS is partnering to provide volunteers (who will be trained by Social Bridges™) to serve as job coaches. If you are interested in volunteering for RAISE as a job coach, please visit the website for more information at http://www.JFGO.org under ‘How you can Help.’ The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando recognizes and appreciates the efforts of all individuals and agencies on the RAISE team, which includes Social Bridges™; RAISE Program Advisor Ken Schneider, Ed.D., former director of exceptional student education in Orange County from 1991-2011; and Two 6 Resources, Inc.

RAISE has partnered with Social Bridges™ of Winter Park to provide professional assessment, ongoing evaluation, supervision and weekly programming. Social Bridges™ will work with RAISE employees to provide assistance with skill building, one on one job coach support and individualized progress monitoring.

Anyone interested in volunteering for RAISE or for more information about RAISE or to learn more about the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando’s programming initiatives please visit, http://www.jfgo.org.


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