Perceptions can shape action, and that is why at LaunchAbility, the emphasis is not on the "dis" but on the "ability". Based on a belief in the individual's ability to overcome their limitations and achieve the goals they set for themselves, LaunchAbility has successfully challenged the misconception that people with disabilities cannot be integrated into the workforce.
CEO Kathryn Parsons says that "We take the dis out of disability, leaving only a client's ability to shine through. Our task is to find that hidden ability in a client and align it with an employer to create perfect work relationship via training, services and placement. Simply stated, we connect great workers with great employers."
The non-profit works with employers in north Texas, explains Parsons, to promote inclusive employment: "LaunchAbility is a job-placement service for adults with cognitive disabilities. Underserved and overlooked men and women with Autism, Down syndrome, stroke and learning disabilities who not only desire to join the work force but with guidance and training are more than able to do so. We give independence to clients who would otherwise be limited and depend solely on their families or social services."
Earlier known as Special Care & Career Center, LaunchAbility has been around for over fifty years, supporting special needs students and adults. While career placement was always a core activity along with support for special needs students, now LaunchAbility focuses exclusively on Disability Hiring and strategic talent management. Its most important role is in opening up channels of communication between the worker and employer, which helps to dispel any misconceptions.
With its long experience, LaunchAbility has perfected the art of matching individuals to employers. The dedication and committed attitude of employees wins over employers who may have had reservations initially. Parsons says that the results have been uniformly positive, and offer great advantages to employers as well.
"We take great time and care in placing adults with cognitive disabilities with the right employers and the right position for them which translates into exceptionally high job retention rates. In fact, more than 50% of LaunchAbility® Supported Employment clients have remained with the same employer for more than 5 years. That is extremely satisfying for us, profitable for the hiring companies and incredibly empowering for our ready, willing and more than capable clients."
Employers partnering with LaunchAbility find that there are other, less tangible benefits as well, records Parsons: "We can tell you from decades of experience that hiring adults with diverse abilities is life-altering. Not only for those with disabilities- but the companies who hire them." LaunchAbility relies on dedicated supporters, both volunteers and donors. Volunteers can help by fundraising for special like A Special Evening by soliciting event sponsorships and/or in-kind gifts and services.
And, of course, says Parsons, "Monetary donations are always welcome. And, of course, grants from corporations, private organizations or foundations are extremely advantageous and welcome."