An amazing lady helping to promote diversity and inclusion!
Diversity in the workforce is what StandAmongFriends.org is all about.
Stand Among Friends is a 501(c)(3) organization housed on the campus of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. It is an extremely appropriate name for this nonprofit. What comes to your mind when you think of the phrase “stand among friends?” Most people think of being among colleagues both in school and in business where mutual respect, diversity, and camaraderie are shared. The organization was built around the premise that people with disabilities of all ages should have the same opportunities as other segments of society. Florida Atlantic University partnered with the organization in 2008 to help provide resources for college students with disabilities as they pursued their careers as well trained individuals. The organization does not limit their efforts to serve college students. Their clients are comprised of people of various ages with many different challenges.
Many wonderful things have happened since the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. The ADA was instrumental in creating regulations, which provided access to public buildings, wheelchair ramps, disability parking spaces, and accessibility to public transportation in general. The ADA also regulated public bathrooms, airlines, hotels, and railways requiring special accommodations for people with disabilities. Technology has undergone major advances that created new opportunities for people with disabilities. They include access to computers, smart phones, and other automation at work regardless of the physical challenges they may have.
More change is needed to bring about real diversity
The last 25 years have had a positive change in the lives of people with disabilities. However, there is one issue which has not seen the expected growth. Despite all of the new equipment, and accessibility that has been introduced into society, people with disabilities have difficulty finding jobs. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities remains shockingly higher than it is in the able- bodied community. Working-age people with disabilities have an unemployment rate of over 10% compared to the rest of society, which is just below 5%. That is an unacceptable 50% difference.
Stand Among Friends is passionately involved with preparing candidates with disabilities for employment and at the same time educating employers to the benefits of hiring these well-prepared trained people. SAF with other agencies has been instrumental in promoting diversity in the workplace in the state of Florida. The business community has been slow to expand their workforce and offer opportunities to the disabled community believing that in some way it may be a detriment and impede growth.
The truth is that it is exactly the opposite. Businesses which make a practice of hiring people with disabilities along with able-bodied employees support positive social change and diversity. Doing so translates into lower costs, increased retention, and higher profits. Tax benefits can range from $2,400 to $15,000 depending on the circumstances. Hiring people with disabilities creates new opportunities to implement innovative marketing strategies, which can attract a new customer base. The US Census reports that people with disabilities, along with their network represent one trillion dollars in discretionary spending. Putting the special need’s community to work not only increases the profitability of the company, but enhances the life of the person with the challenge by helping them become financially independent and end the need for government subsidies. It is a win-win all around.
NSI & DOOD Radio is pleased to introduce you the President, Dawn Alexander Hicks. Dawn is highly passionate and motivated. she works tirelessly to inform the business community as to the benefits of employing people with disabilities.
Dawn Alexander Hicks Bio
Dawn Alexandra Hicks is an executive-level professional with 15 years of experience in nonprofit management, program and fund development. Her strengths include data-driven organizational analysis and improvement, instructional design, formation of collaborative partnerships, creation of special events, development of communications strategies and campaigns, expertise in fundraising and foundation search databases. Ms. Hicks has used her statistical skills in the disability services’ arena to study the performance of various services to include Vocational Rehabilitation and Transportation Disadvantages services.
Ms. Hicks is a senior staff member at Stand Among Friends (SAF), a nonprofit organization located on the Florida Atlantic University campus in Boca Raton. In her role, she has developed effective vocational and technology-based programs helping thousands of individuals with disabilities. In her 9 1/2 year tenure, she expanded the mission of the organization to Florida to 22 counties and has grown the organization’s budget by 85 percent.
Her nonprofit causes have included education (charter and private schools), arts, technology, and services for individuals with disabilities, disease prevention and healthcare. Ms. Hicks has created fundraising initiatives from concept to execution and has won multiple successful private, state and federal grant proposals.
Ms. Hicks holds a certification as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, a Bachelor’s degree in Communication/Marketing. She is currently completing a Corporate Master of Business Administration Degree (with Management Information Systems focus) at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.