Berkshire County Arc Wins $500K Employment Grant
"We are ecstatic to receive this award. Ever since the '90s, we've been helping people with disabilities to find work. It feels good that we've been recognized in this way," said Executive Director Kenneth Singer.
Arc was one of five recipients of the award and the only one in Western Massachusetts. Two dozen organizations had applied for the competitive grant, designed to spur regional employment collaboratives.
Gov. Deval Patrick strongly supports the state becoming a "model employer" for the disabled. Singer attended the conference on June 25 at which the governor announced his administration's initiatives for employment and the five winners of the grants.
Working over the past years to gain federal grant money were the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the state Executive Office for Health and Human Services and the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass-Boston. Together, they have tried to improve opportunities for people with disabilities. The total $2.5 million in federal funding will be used to further those efforts.
Kenneth Singer, Paul Gavrity and Rick Hawes, all part of the Arc project team, have been creating a network to support the establishment a Berkshire County Regional Employment Collaborative. Together with such entities as local school systems, the Prime Outlets in Lee, the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce and Greylock Federal Credit Union, the group is maintaining its reputation in training workers with disabilities as well as finding them positions.
BC Arc began with just over a 100 local companies, groups and organizations; it is now supported by more than 200 employers in Berkshire County.
"This is fantastic for the Berkshire's vision of helping others. It's really a collaborative effort around here and we're really proud of our work up to this point," said Singer. "This grant will surely benefit many people with disabilities, and we hope that other grants will eventually follow after they see the promising results."