A local nonprofit is one of a handful of organizations participating in a nationwide initiative to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
TAC Industries, known as The Abilities Connection, provides training and jobs to residents with disabilities in the Springfield area.
The organization is currently working with two national providers to improve transportation as well as employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the community.
TAC Industries is the only one in the country working on two initiatives as part of the Department of Labor’s National Expansion Opportunities Network.
The goal is to work with subject matter experts to examine best practices around the country and implement those ideas in the Springfield area. The Department of Labor will be providing funding and supplies for that research, said Jim Zahora, the CEO of TAC.
He said there is not a specific amount of grant funding that they are receiving for the two initiatives but expenses will be covered as they work alongside the national providers.
TAC started meeting with those national providers last month and will be working on those initiatives over a course of one year.
One includes addressing transportation barriers that some with disabilities face as they find employment opportunities in the community.
Those problems are more apparent for those who find jobs during the weekend or work hours when local public transportation systems are not running.
“We are looking for additional options that are reliable and affordable. If you are working in the community and are making minimum wage or a little above that, you cannot afford something like Uber,” said Zahora.
The nonprofit is partnering with ACCSES in order to find a solution. It is a Washington, D.C.-based network of more than 1,200 organizations serving people with disabilities across the country.
TAC works with local public transpiration systems in the City of Springfield and Clark County.
TAC also has more than 25 buses to provide services to the people its serves and has called drivers in on overtime to offer rides for those working on the weekends or in the evening.
Zahora said the goal to find a more sustainable solution by examining what other communities may be doing and implementing those results locally.
TAC is also partnering with SourceAmerica to better market people with disabilities who are in the local work force or are looking to join it.
SourceAmerica is a Virginia-based network of more than 750 community-based nonprofits that creates employment opportunities for a skilled and dedicated workforce of people with disabilities.
The idea is to engage with local businesses to better showcase people with disabilities as dedicated employees as well as dismantle bias that may exist in the community.
That includes better connecting employers with those seeking work as well as seeing what other communities have done to make workers with disabilities more visible.