2021 Grants Challenge

Expanding Job Opportunities to Include the Developmentally Disabled Population

With 85% of people who have developmental disabilities unable to find employment, Mychal’s Learning Place has taken a leadership role in creating job training opportunities for this population in LA. We have two successful ventures – a café/bakery and a print shop – that are providing essential work skills to increase the employability and independence of our participants. Beyond simply getting our ventures back in business after the pandemic, Mychal’s has critical expansion plans underway for both operations for the coming year.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

South Bay

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Independence is one of the most valued goals for any life and for most young adults independence means employment that offers opportunities to make a productive contribution to society. But for many developmentally disabled people their education and training simply do not prepare them for employment in the community. A Cornell University survey shows only 15.7% of people with independent living disabilities have employment and a separate online survey of 5,000 people showed a similar result – only 15% of those with developmental disabilities find employment, despite the fact that more than half seek it. That obstacle has a wide-ranging effect. Those with developmental disabilities face a lifetime of dependence and the burden is on society to support them. It doesn’t have to be that way. Mychal’s Learning Place successfully promotes independent living for all our participants, including job training, experience and placement for young people transitioning into adulthood.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

In recent years, Mychal’s Learning Place has taken a leadership role in training young adults with developmental disabilities for employment in the community. Through targeted ventures, including partnerships with local businesses, we have placed well-trained young people in internships and jobs that would have once been assumed to be beyond their reach. Mychal’s knows that the key to success for this population’s desire for meaningful work is often not ability or ambition but time and effort in training. Therefore, our most successful job ventures are those that Mychal’s develops and runs, allowing for one-on-one training to master job skills. Mychal’s Bakery & Coffee trains baristas and bakers to run and supply a mobile café that makes stops throughout the South Bay. Our baristas serve the public, handle money and credit cards, and operate a cash register. Bakers learn bulk production in a commercial kitchen, food packaging, and food storage and handling. The bakery also has a catering service and sells baked goods in local stores. All trainees must pass the exams for a California Food Handler card. Mychal’s Prints is a digital printing operation that produces custom stamped items like t-shirts, masks and mugs for companies, groups and events. Trainees learn to operate a direct-to-garment printer, t-shirt pre-treat machine, heat press and an embroidery machine. We plan to expand product placement for the bakery and develop a new partnership to increase our print operation.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 55

Indirect Impact: -

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Briefly, Mychal’s job training programs will create a larger, more diversified and equitable work force for Los Angeles. LA is lauded as the land of dreams but not everyone in LA has an equal opportunity to fulfill their dreams. Recent studies show that 1 in 6 children in this country have a developmental disability yet this population faces enormous obstacles in pursuing their ambitions. The job training programs at Mychal’s Learning Place help these young people compete for employment in their community. By creating opportunities for young people with developmental disabilities to participate in and contribute to society in meaningful ways, Mychal’s is improving prospects, self-esteem and lives among the developmentally disabled population, improving LA’s economy by changing dependents into wage-earners, and improving society’s perception of an often disregarded population in our world. Win-win-win!

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Mychal’s job training focus has been a part of our mission for a decade. Each year 100% of the participants in our programs make progress in their level of independent living skills. Of the 50 people in our young adult programs all have participated in employment-related services and increased their job readiness skills, and 39 passed their California Food Handler’s exam. We now have 28 young adults with developmental disabilities training either as bakers or baristas and another 9 trained to work with the equipment at Mychal’s Prints. Seven students have risen from trainee to employee in our own ventures, nine were employed by partner businesses in the community, and two attained paid internships at ESMoA. The success of the café, bakery, catering service, print operation, and overall program is assessed by business metrics (# served, revenue, etc.) and the number of trainees. Individual success is measured by skills mastered, tests passed, etc. as tracked by the program coordinator.

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

Thought this is important to share: While Mychal’s job training ventures are wholly run by Mychal’s Learning Place, we partner with a variety of organizations to provide work opportunities for our trainees. A number of companies in LA have partnered with us in providing jobs, providing pop-up sites for our café, placing catering orders with our bakery, and buying t-shirts, hats, etc. from the print shop. A new partnership is under development through the Collaboration Center in Nevada. The Center is a disability network that partners with providers, agencies and non-profits serving those with different abilities. We recently laid the groundwork for a collaborative relationship with a larger print operation in Nevada which will outsource smaller print jobs to Mychal’s for fulfillment.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will you impact?​

Disability access and inclusion

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the best place to LEARN

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE