First Nonprofit Foundation awarded $100,000 to Aspire, a Chicago nonprofit that supports people with developmental disabilities, to transform their sheltered workshop into a Career Training Center focused on community-based job opportunities.
The project is designed to encourage an optimal learning environment, and the current workshop facility will transition from a vast, open industrial space to a Career Training Center with nine smaller “training pods,” each focusing on workplace simulation or preparation in one of the following areas: Hospitality/Healthcare, Culinary, Distribution (Warehouse), Retail, Subcontract Employment, Outside Volunteer Experiences, Sensory Integration, Social Communication Instruction, and Personal Portfolio (resume) development. Depending on their interests, participants will rotate through a specific set of training pods daily.
The Career Center project requires a multi-year plan to reconfigure the current workshop space, develop a curriculum for each training pod, build an optimal staffing structure, and invest in leadership training for instructors. The goal is to have the Career Training Center fully built-out and operational by July 2016.
Aspire’s mission is to support the successes of kids and adults with developmental disabilities, strengthen their families and build embracing communities.
Aspire was founded in 1960 and is recognized throughout Illinois as a leader in providing bold, pioneering and uncompromising services to children and adults with developmental disabilities, their families and the Chicagoland community. Each year, Aspire serves over 1,000 kids and adults with disabilities, and their families.
"We consider First Nonprofit Foundation a true partner in every sense. Joe Geiger’s guidance and insight helped shape our proposal which was quickly approved. First Nonprofit Foundation also understands the importance of connecting nonprofits doing similar work so we can share our experiences and ultimately make an impact beyond our respective service areas."