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AI360° Ability & Inclusion Summit Features Pitch Competition
For Businesses Supporting Inclusive Hiring
(New York, NY) — HeartShare Human Services announces the inaugural AI360° Ability and Inclusion Summit to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities find meaningful employment in competitive roles that are commensurate with their experience. The two-day event on November 1-2 will include keynote speakers, panel discussions and spotlights on successful models of inclusion. The event will culminate with a hot jobs forum featuring dozens of leading companies targeting the neurodiverse community to expand their talent pipeline.
Even with existing government initiatives and incentives to support the hiring of people with developmental disabilities, the rate of unemployment and underemployment for those on the spectrum remains a staggeringly high 90%. Unfortunately, recruiters and hiring managers often have not received the training to recognize the strengths of individuals with developmental disabilities in the workplace. Through the summit, HeartShare will build a community of nonprofits, universities and corporations to share best practices on inclusive hiring and connect qualified candidates with open positions.
The summit will culminate in an exciting “Shark Tank” style pitch competition where startups and nonprofits will share their innovative ideas to support the hiring of individuals with developmental disabilities to renowned judges from network partners. Participating non-partisan judges will each select a winning idea that will receive a year-long support program, including professional consulting, communications expertise or funding.
“Many talented and hardworking individuals with disabilities are underrepresented in the workplace. Individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities represent a rising workforce, but employers are unable to tap into this pipeline of talent. AI360° strives to bridge that gap,” said Meredith Beck, HeartShare Vice President of Development, spearheading the AI360° initiative. HeartShare provides services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in New York.
“I’m thrilled that The FAR Fund is the founding sponsor of the AI360° Ability and Inclusion Summit. The Fund prides itself on being the first to support innovative programs and initiatives,” said Shirlee Taylor, PhD, Executive Director of The FAR Fund. “The AI360° concept brings together cross-industry stakeholders sharing a common vision to positively transform how we hire people of all abilities,” she said.
“Publicis Media is proud to partner with HeartShare on the inaugural AI360° Ability and Inclusion Summit. This program will offer a safe space for organizations to partner and continue to educate their employees about autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Even more exciting is our opportunity to positively impact an individual’s life through the pitch project. We have been long standing supporters of businesses operated by people on the spectrum and look forward to participating,” said Brian Vaught, Senior Vice President of Talent Inclusion at Publicis Media.
“At Goldman Sachs, we encourage our employees to be supportive of each other. Being transparent strengthened my relationship with my colleagues. Now, as a manager, I encourage my direct reports to be open about their lives by setting a good example – I’m honest about my personal life, whether it is my health or dropping off my kids at school. I know how draining it was to keep a secret—I think we’re moving towards an environment where people are freed from that burden. Through our sponsorship of the AI360° pitch project, we are sharing our commitment to support the community of individuals with disabilities,” said Levee Brooks, co-head of the Disability Interest Forum.
The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism is a founding sponsor of the pitch project. “This pitch project is a positive step towards creating more employment opportunities. The winners will receive resources and support from an understanding, informed community of employers,” said Nick Savarese, Executive Director of The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, which has spent 20 years supporting people with autism and their families.
The pitch project is open to all businesses founded and operated by someone with autism or those focused on inclusive hiring. Submissions will be accepted until October 5. To learn more about AI360° and to submit a pitch idea, please contact AI360@heartshare.org.