2022 Grants Challenge

Best Buddies in California Integrated Employment

Best Buddies Jobs (BBJ) works to secure jobs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through a person-centered approach that links participants with an employment consultant who helps with securing and maintaining enriching employment opportunities. By developing partnerships with employers, assisting with the hiring process, and providing ongoing support to the employee/employer, BBJ is creating inclusive communities as we work to find jobs within the community based on participants’ preferences and goals.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Income Inequality

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

County of Los Angeles

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

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

An estimated 82% of adults (18+) with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) do not have a paid job in the community. Of the 18% that are employed, 34% are being compensated under the national minimum wage of $7.25/hour. Best Buddies Jobs Program (BBJ) assists individuals with IDD in securing and maintaining meaningful employment, so that they can earn an income, pay taxes, and support themselves independently. Access to employment opportunities continues to be a contributing factor in the economic imbalance between people with and without IDD. BBJ addresses this inequity by assisting our participants in securing and maintaining fully integrated employment in the field of their choosing. All positions are paid at or above minimum wage, with many of our participants receiving competitive healthcare and benefits packages. Upon procurement of employment, our Jobs Consultants accompany participants to their jobs until they are comfortable enough to work independently.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Best Buddies (BB) Jobs provides individualized job discovery, job development, job placement, on-the-job training, and follow-along support for individuals with IDD. All placements are person-centered and based on the individual’s preferences and career goals. Once a participant has secured employment, BB staff will provide on-the-job orientation and training at the job site. We tailor training for each participant to the specific requirements of the job, according to the criteria of the employer. BB matches skilled and qualified individuals with IDD with businesses seeking enthusiastic and dedicated employees. Through the Jobs program, BB develops partnerships with employers, assists with the hiring process and provides ongoing support to the employee and employer. Our program is unique, because it begins with school-to-work transition services, continues with securing enriching employment opportunities for participants, and culminates in providing participants on-the-job training and support throughout employment. BB staff conducts intake interviews and develops employment plans for each participant within the first three months of their enrollment in the program. These employment plans clearly state the individual’s career goal, conditions and preferences for employment, and possible accommodations that will promote success. The employment consultant also assists with the preparation of resumes and employment proposals within their first six months in the program.

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

BBJ will expand our current jobs program to include the 25 new placements in SoCal during this grant period. BBJ participants will receive training on resume building, interview preparation and practice, and networking skills. BBJ follows the supported employment model that has been implemented by statewide regional centers and the department of rehabilitation. Our standards and protocols align with the individual placement models we share with other organizations that provide similar services. Individuals who are placed in jobs during this grant period will continue to receive services from BBJ until which time they decide to leave the program, or no longer require support to complete their job. Best Buddies Jobs provides ongoing support to all program participants for as long as each participant needs.

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

BBJ uses a participant satisfaction survey; employers’ program evaluation survey; supervisor’s evaluation of the employee survey, and our funding source satisfaction survey. Additionally, the surveys allow for participants to provide feedback about their supervisor and vice versa. Lastly, we survey our partners at the Department of Rehabilitation to ensure the referrals are being received and that we have provided satisfactory services within a timely and efficient manager. BBJ seeks to identify: •Trends that require an immediate program-wide action plan •Trends that may need additional support or communication •Employment consultant’s caseload where additional specialized training is required •We use SET-Works to track all activities for our employer partners and participants, measuring: (1) participant employment data, (2) number of individuals maintaining longer-term employment; and (3) hourly wages and benefits.

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

Direct Impact: 25

Indirect Impact: 250