When the Florida Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act passed in 2014 with the intent to, “Create a comprehensive workforce development system that provides assistance to job seekers and employers,” numerous departments and offices were charged with developing and managing different programs to achieve the WIOA goal. For individuals seeking employment, they face the reality that an employer almost always prefers someone with a certain level of experience. Internships have long been a path to gaining experience and internship programs were subsequently incorporated into some of the state’s efforts. For those with special needs, however, attaining that basic step may be difficult and the Promises of Hope Foundation is a source to turn to. The non-profit’s mission, “Is to assist people with disabilities to find and maintain employment, as well as obtain the training and transitional services needed to enhance their independence”. Their mission is complemented by their vision, “To become the first place people with disabilities turn when seeking employment and transitional services and a top resource for employers in need of qualified employees.”
Deneen Bullard, who established the Foundation in 2006, was able to fully devote herself in 2017 as Program Director when she transitioned from working in a state position. Among their successes is “Pre-Placement Training Transition Youth”, a 20-hour curriculum they created in accordance with WIOA guidelines. Internships may follow the training. In fostering a win-win relationship with businesses, foundation funding enables interns to be placed within businesses at no cost to the employer. Promises of Hope works closely with businesses to assess each environment individually in order to maximize success of placement. As Bullard explains, “Promises of Hope provides work opportunities by paying for the employees’ salaries so the employers don’t have to, if the employee qualifies for our program. Working with POH provides employers a positive symbiotic relationship that benefits them as well as our students. Our students gain the experience, knowledge, and transferable skills they can use to increase and improve their employability.”
The South Dade Chamber of Commerce is glad to have Marcus Robinson on board. “Promises of Hope is providing a great value to us and our members, especially so for our small businesses,” Kerry Black, Chief Executive Officer, said. “The Foundation matched our needs and Marcus is an asset to our staff at no cost to us.”
For Marcus, this is his first internship and his goal is to learn general business skills. He’s enjoying the work and agrees with another intern [from Career Source], Ali Santana, who said, “An internship opens doors. Be like a sponge and learn everything you can; you never know what you might use later.”
“We want our clients, employers, and the community at large to achieve success as well as an improved outlook and we work towards this goal by providing a conduit that links employers and employees. We work with people with disabilities and youth to provide them opportunities they might not otherwise have and to expose the community to the benefit and value of working with our population. We are working towards a better tomorrow for everyone.”
Business owners are acutely aware of the importance of a stable workforce and in recounting success stories of the Foundation, Bullard’s response came easily. “There are many, but we are most proud of our students and adults who have been matched with employers who keep them on permanently. Many of our clients have shown themselves to be indispensable, which has led to permanent employment. The employers gain a reliable and diligent staff member and the client gains paid employment, training, mentoring, possible benefits, confidence, and independence. This is what we are working towards and these outcomes are why we do what we do.”
Whether a potential employer, employee, or volunteer, go to https://www.pohfoundationinc.org or call (786) 712-8619 for more information.