Goodwill Omaha’s AbilityOne Program Focuses on Abilities
By Tara Sandle, Director of Contracts, Goodwill Omaha
This year marks not only the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but also the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which offers people, organizations, and legislators an opportunity to raise awareness about disability employment issues and to recognize the positive influence of individuals with disabilities in the workplace.
The history of NDEAM traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Goodwill Omaha continues to educate the communities we serve about disability employment issues and our commitment to an inclusive work environment. To contribute to this monthlong national campaign, we’re highlighting our AbilityOne program and participants on our social media pages.
We Focus on Abilities
Goodwill Omaha has been providing job opportunities to individuals with disabilities since 1989. Currently, we have 110 individuals employed in the AbilityOne program, with 85 who have identified as having a disability.
AbilityOne is a federally mandated program that uses set-aside funds to provide employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities. Per the program requirements, 75% of Goodwill Omaha’s AbilityOne labor hours must be completed by these individuals. As a member nonprofit within the program, Goodwill Omaha works with SourceAmerica to provide these employment opportunities.
Under the AbilityOne program, employees are paid the federal wage determination rate. Oftentimes, these rates are higher than minimum wage. In addition, every AbilityOne employee receives health and welfare fringe benefits for every hour they work on the contract.
Goodwill Omaha is a proud supporter of the AbilityOne program and continues to contribute to the program by employing individuals with disabilities. We’re also committed to creating an inclusive work environment that includes people of all races, gender identity, culture, and ability.
“Ensuring that America’s workplaces continue to include and accommodate people with disabilities will be an important part of our economic rebound,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said in a June 2020 U.S. Department of Labor news release. “Looking ahead, the Department will remain focused on the policies that led to a strong economy and record-low unemployment rates for persons with disabilities prior to the pandemic. A vigorous economic rebound and job growth will, alongside the Americans with Disabilities Act, increase access and opportunity for Americans with disabilities.”
Our Employees Are Essential
This year, SourceAmerica’s theme for NDEAM is “Always Essential.” From performing custodial services at federal buildings to providing postal services at Offutt Air Force Base, Goodwill Omaha’s AbilityOne employees have demonstrated their dedication and commitment during COVID-19. Their work is a reminder that people with disabilities are always essential.
Goodwill Omaha is proud to be a part of this year’s NDEAM celebration. We want to spread the important message that we value all perspectives, including those of individuals with disabilities.