Bridge to Opportunity Program Summary

The Problem we are Solving:
Employment rates for people with disabilities (PWD) remains chronically low while the overall employment (as measured by the US DOL labor participation rate) was at historic high levels prior to the coronavirus pandemic.  Employers  struggle to find talent, while many millions of people all over the world with disabilities are unemployed.  The pandemic is driving businesses to accelerate their digitization efforts, and it is now a top CEO priority.  Most people with disabilities want to work and are capable of filling knowledge worker roles but often lack the education, skills or experiences to be considered for these jobs.  As a result, the employment challenges for individuals continues and the overall labor participation rates for people with disabilities is not progressing.  Access to talent challenges for businesses and the opportunity for meaningful employment is more prevalent in the IT industry.  

Solution:
To solve this skills gap, and to enable transformative employment opportunities, we are building training academies that provide people with disabilities with certified skills that lead to high paying IT jobs.  Our initial prototypes leverage the Cisco Networking Academy program to develop employable skills and globally recognized certification that leads to a high paying job careers in as network / cyber-security analysts.  The certification the students receive is portable globally. 

Successful Prototypes:

Prototypes have been completed in several locations with transformative results.  To date, 150 people with disabilities have completed the programs in the prototypes in the US and Europe with average graduation rates of 98% and employment rates of over 90%.  This program unlocks the great potential of people with disabilities and creates a bridge to the significant opportunities in the IT industry.   The program is delivered through an innovative community partnership ecosystem of governments, employers, service agencies and advocacy groups.  Together we are transforming employment and people's lives.

Planning is underway for additional programs in additional employment centers in the US, Europe, Africa and Asia.  For more information on how you can participate email: promzek@threetalents.org

Mission:
Our Mission is to transform employment and lives through employment globally for for people of all abilities. 

Vision:
We envision bridge to opportunity programs that support people of varying abilities to develop a certified skill set through the active engagement and support of community stakeholders, employers, and industry leaders that bridges the vast potential of people with disabilities to in-demand high paying jobs that transform their lives.

Program principles:

Our success is attributable to our fundamental principles:

  • All Disabilities: The Bridge to Opportunity welcomes people with all disabilities who are supported, encouraged, inspired and wanted.
  • Certification: Graduates are certified and credentialed from industry leaders for in-demand IT opportunities.
  • Employment Assured: We develop skills and work experience for in-demand roles and help assure employment through the proactive and enthusiastic support of employers as we engage the sponsoring employers throughout training lifecycle.
  • Partnership Support: We welcome government groups, employers, development agencies, and other mission aligned organizations to partner with us to deliver the program.  Their support allows us to deliver it tuition-free to candidates.
  • Career Success Assured: Our industry and community partners support our candidate throughout the training and into their careers.  These partners ensure the work environment is conducive to their short and long term career success.
  • Financially Viable:  This program is financially sustainable and replicalbe almost everywhere.   
  • Benefits All:   Our an innovative partnership ecosystem alllows a broad range of partners to participate and contribute to program success.  All also benefit from it. 

Summary and Next Steps:
Employment of people with disabilities remains chronically low while millions of IT jobs go unfilled.  Employers cannot find employable talent and the labor pool is declining in many countries.  The pandemic is exacerbating these challenges.  Candidates with disabilities often lack “employable skills” that limit their employment potential.  The Bridge to Opportunity academy builds employable skills which unlocks potential and transforms lives.   It is a proven program achieving very high success rates, in which all stakeholders contribute and all benefit.  

Together with our partners, we will transform employment for people with disabilities, unlock their potential, create a bridge to opportunity…and transform lives.

Questions and Further Information:

If you have questions, or would like more information please contact:
Patrick Romzek, promzek@threetalents.org

Success Stories and Links:

Cisco LifeChanger Summary by Cisco (2017):
https://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en_us/about/inclusion-collaboration/life-changer.pdf

Inclusive Academy Summary, Vienna Austria (2017):
https://zeroproject.org/zero-project-it-academy/

NYC AbilITy Academy (2018):
https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/mopd/downloads/pdf/mayors_office_of_people_with_disabilities_launches_the_ability_cisco_academy_powered_by_nyc_atwork.pdf

The Nigel Floris Story - Life Changed by NYC abilITy Academy (2018):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eMmIrp5wnI&t=2s

Cisco Blog on NYC abilITy Academy (10/2019):
https://blogs.cisco.com/csr/how-the-ability-cisco-networking-academy-is-turning-disability-into-opportunity

Detroit Exceptional Academy:
https://www.livingandlearningcenter.org/cybersecurity-certification-program-for-adults-with-disabilities%EF%BB%BF/

Bridge Academy Program Presentation to the International Labour Organization (2019):
https://youtu.be/7zI187m6LSg

Cybersecurity Talent Shortage and Bridge Academy in Michigan (2020):
https://www.forbes.com/sites/tedknutson/2020/02/11/cybersecurity-jobs-going-begging-as-college-computer-science-grads-lack-skillsexperience-says-house-leader/#615224211df1

Cisco Blog Post Highlighting the Exceptional Academy in MI (2020):
 https://blogs.cisco.com/csr/cisco-networking-academy-creates-a-much-needed-skills-to-job-pathway-for-diverse-midwest-students

Institute for Career Development (ICD) NYC Launch and Ribbon Cutting Video (2018):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn_hNPUyiDs

Institute for Career Development (ICD) NYC Student Testimonials:

Fox 2 News Detroit story about the Exceptional Academy in Metro Detroit:
https://www.fox2detroit.com/news/covid-19s-disruptions-to-daily-life-are-nothing-new-to-the-students-of-the-exceptional-academy

Bridge Academy In Massachusetts Launch Press Release from the  Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission:
https://www.mass.gov/news/mrc-launches-cybersecurity-training-for-people-with-disabilities-in-massachusetts


To view an overview video of the Bridge to Opportunity Program click:
https://vimeo.com/437678454