County Pursues Partnership to Support Employment Opportunities for People with Developmental Disabilities

COUNTY PURSUES PARTNERSHIP TO SUPPORT EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES

SAN JOSE – Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian is championing a collaboration between and among the County, AbilityPath, Ada’s Café and private donors to renovate AbilityPath’s outdoor courtyard. The upgraded area will provide adults with developmental disabilities who are participating in the AbilityPath employment and careers program, or working at Ada’s Café, practical onsite employment experience in the food services and hospitality industries.

“The pandemic has shown us that outdoor spaces are here to stay,” said Simitian. “This funding collaboration between the County and private donors should have a significant impact on folks in the developmentally disabled community and their ability to find meaningful work.”

With support from the County, sponsored by Simitian, AbilityPath can now move forward upgrading their courtyard space at their Middlefield Road location in Palo Alto. The County’s contribution will be a cornerstone funding source, and in conjunction with additional support from private donors, meet the total cost of the project.

“Between the work already done to improve the kitchen space, and these new improvements to the courtyard, Ada’s Café is in a good position to take the next step in collaboration with AbilityPath,” said Kathleen Foley-Hughes, Founder and Executive Director of Ada’s Café. “The upgraded space will allow the catering side of our business to flourish, and to develop our new jam and granola business where additional mission-based employees will be engaged.  Our employees with developmental disabilities will have a hand in every step of the way.”

In addition to providing employment opportunities, the space will be able to host programs, activities, and other community events. The upgrade will include the demolition of the existing space, creation of an ADA drop-off entry way, construction of a stage for events, installation of new landscaping, installation of security gates and fencing for an onsite preschool, and an eco-friendly commemorative water feature that will use recycled water.

“The unemployment rate for people with developmental disabilities is approximately 85%,” said Bryan Neider, CEO of AbilityPath. “Our employment and careers program regularly supports more than 120 adults with developmental disabilities in jobs with local and national businesses in the community. This creates an amazing opportunity for people to work here onsite with us while also bringing awareness to their skills to the broader community.”

AbilityPath is a nonprofit organization that focuses on acceptance, inclusion, and respect of people with special needs and development disabilities. AbilityPath’s goal is to support those individuals and their families with an expansive array of programming. AbilityPath offers educational, vocational, and therapeutic programming, as well as family support services.

“AbilityPath’s work to provide individuals with disabilities the skills needed to contribute in today’s workforce is a real plus,” said Simitian. “And, with businesses competing for talent in a limited labor pool, adults of all abilities are a valuable resource for local businesses trying to meet their staffing needs.”

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