One of the initiatives of which I’m pleased to be a part is The Disability Project, which was created in 2009 by Ball State’s Political Science Department.
When we launched The Disability Project, we set our sights on identifying, addressing and eliminating the barriers to employment that college educated people with disabilities often face. The Disability Project was initially funded by a three-year, combined state and federal grant of $463,000 from the State of Indiana. While the project’s initial results were promising, funding was discontinued in early 2010 due to state budget cuts.
The Disability Project has continued to thrive with the support of businesses and organizations committed to our work. From the outset, the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation has charged us with identifying how we can better foster self-esteem and self-confidence among people with disabilities as it relates to securing employment. We also have received ongoing support from the Marion County Election Board to increase the participation of people with disabilities in the political process. And, we recently secured a commitment from The Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate, to strengthen our efforts through Ball State’s campus in downtown Indianapolis.
That’s why it’s an honor and a privilege to introduce you to The Disability Project’s first progress report. I hope you take time to review the report, and encourage you to share your thoughts with me. The report shares the process these students explore on their path to self-reliance. Importantly, it reflects the ongoing commitment of Ball State to teach – and prepare – students with disabilities to be business and community leaders.
Since we began this journey three years ago, we have spent countless hours – both in and out of the classroom – in helping our students learn to help themselves find sustainable and meaningful employment. While we are proud of their progress and our progress, we still have much, much more to do.
I look forward to updating you on our progress.