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'It’s about creating hope': Summit Future Foundation advocates for inclusion in KC's workforce

Posted at 6:24 PM, May 15, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Summit Future Foundation advocates for inclusion in Kansas City's workforce.

The nonprofit has forged partnerships across the metro to connect people with disabilities to area employers.

Part of the expansion is thanks to the work of Cassidi Jobe, executive director of Summit Future Foundation, who started advocating over a year ago to start a similar program.

“It’s about creating hope and showing parents that the future for their children is bright and there are so many opportunities out there for them," Jobe said.

Her inspiration comes from wanting to ensure a better future for her two sons who are on the autism spectrum. Although, she knows the impact of such opportunities extends well beyond her personal connection.

“It’s life-changing. It’s life-changing for the individual; it’s life-changing for their family," Jobe said. "The amount of pride that a person who we support gets from getting their first job, just that excitement in general to get that job, to keep that job, to be successful in that job."

KCMO resolution

In October 2022, the Kansas City, Missouri, City Council passed a resolution, No. 220919, recognizing National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The resolution reported 79.8% of working-age people without a disability are employed while only 37.1% of working-age people with a disability are employed.

"Kansas City is committed to reducing discrimination, eliminating barriers to employment, and attracting talented candidates into state employment," per Resolution No. 220919.

Thus, the city stated its intent to increase Kansas City's "inclusion of persons with disabilities in their general workforce." And to do so, the city stated it would be working with Jobe and Summit Future Foundation.

“We don’t give people special treatment. We give them special equipment to do their job, and that’s what this ordinance is really doing," said KCMO 1st District Councilperson Heather Hall.

Hall says the resolution commits, on paper, to hiring those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Why wouldn’t we want to increase our workforce with people who are hungry to work and have a great desire to do that in a productive way so we can serve our citizens better?" Hall said. "To me, it’s a no-brainer.”

With about 30% of city jobs sitting vacant, Hall believes the Model Employer Initiative will aid the city in its hiring needs.

Similarly, Jobe hopes the city's push to be more inclusive will "send a great message to other local Kansas City businesses that this can be done."

Initiative in action

One of Jobe's sons has an internship lined up after graduation, and the other is working his first job while in school.

No matter who benefits from Summit Future Foundation, Jobe hopes the success of the participants will help City Hall flourish for years to come.