2021 Grants Challenge

ICAN Marketplace: Empowering Adults with Disabilities to Gain Employment

This grant will allow us to relaunch and expand our Marketplace Initiative program. This program is comprised of micro businesses we started like the ICAN Photo Booth and Hermosa Coffee Co., a mobile coffee cart business, all of which create employment opportunities for adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). For many of our clients, this is their only opportunity of employment, and the work our clients do fills them with an invaluable sense of purpose and provides them with a consistent source of income.


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


South Bay

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

The problem our Marketplace Initiative addresses is the unemployment rate for adults with IDD, and more specifically, unemployment among clients in our Partial Work Community Inclusion Program (PWCIP), a program that meets Monday-Friday to help our clients live more independently. This past decade, the unemployment rate for adults with IDD in California hasn't gone below 80%, and this problem has been exacerbated by COVID-19. Most of the clients who work for our Marketplace Initiative businesses are a part of our PWCIP and don't have work outside of this program. And due to COVID, the clients in our PWCIP have been without work opportunities for a year now. Not only is the income they earn through their employment important for them to gain financial independence, their jobs fill them with pride and a strong sense of purpose and community integration. But because of the dangers posed by COVID, we also need to ensure that we create the safest possible work environment for our clients.

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

We so strongly believe in employing people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) that we decided to create our Marketplace Initiative program in 2016 to employ our clients. Today, there are three different businesses in this program: The Hermosa Coffee Co., the ICAN Photo Booth, and our Etsy shop, which sells artwork and crafts created by our clients. Our goal is to provide employment opportunities for our PWCIP clients and to do everything in our power to protect them from the pandemic in the process by helping them get vaccinated, providing them with masks, and placing plastic barriers between them and the customers. This program will help us to shrink the unemployment gap that people with IDD face. Not only will we hire clients from our PWCIP directly, providing them with a job and an income, but our Marketplace Initiative also acts as a springboard to help prepare our clients for work outside of our organization. For example, if one of our clients cannot find a job at a local coffee shop, we will hire them to work at our own mobile coffee business. Once this client has been trained and gained work experience, we'll put our client in another one of our programs, the Supported Employment Program, which will then work directly with our client through the application process to find a relevant job outside of ICAN. Overall, we will help adults with IDD in the South Bay, Westside, and Long Beach by employing them and training them for future work.

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: 150

Indirect Impact: 1,000

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

Our primary goal and marker of success will be if our program helps toward lowering the unemployment rate for people with IDD. If we succeed in this, which we strongly believe we will and which we had prior to the pandemic, we'll expand our organization to more areas in Los Angeles County to help people with IDD throughout the County to find and maintain employment. When our organization began in 2012, we had one client who we had provided a job for from a small space in Hermosa Beach. Now we have employed hundreds of clients throughout the South Bay, Westside, and Long Beach with four different office spaces and two large buildings in Long Beach and Torrance, which host multiple PWCIPs. Finally, we firmly believe that by lowering the unemployment rate for adults with IDD and by providing jobs for them throughout Los Angeles County, we will help to create a County with less stigmatism against people with IDD in the workforce, inspiring more local businesses to hire people with IDD.

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

Due to COVID-19, our Marketplace Initiative has been on hiatus since April 2020. However, now that businesses are reopening and our clients are getting vaccinated, we are in the process of relaunching and expanding this program. We will measure the success of our Marketplace Initiative in the following ways: -The number of employment opportunities we are able to provide our clients. -The amount of clients able to get jobs outside of our organization through the work experience they received in our program. -Increased donations due to working events out in the community, which will allow us to hire more clients. -Increased awareness of our program in our communities, leading to more work for our clients. Before COVID, we were able to consistently grow our Marketplace Initiative by working events throughout our communities, allowing us to provide increasingly more job opportunities for our clients. We firmly believe this model will continue to work for us as we relaunch this program.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will you impact?​

Disability access and inclusion

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

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