Job Resources

201 Allen Road

Atlanta, GA 30328

venturesatl@gmail.com

404-500-1921

https://www.venturesatl.com/

Chet Hurwitz Chief Talent Officer

Jordan Greer, Operations Manager

Data management services and product fulfillment service by people with disabilities. Currently trains and employs 20 employees with goal of 50-100 in three years.”

My Visit:

I was introduced to and spoke with Chet Hurwitz more than a year ago and was eager to meet in person while on a visit to Atlanta. Due to Covid, employees were mostly remote during the time of my 1/14/22 visit.

I was invited to join the zoom team meeting and listened as excited employees described new projects including doing price analysis for a local restaurant chain. Some spoke about being productive while doing remote work; others expressed appreciation at the consistency and variety of the work.

Chet is the “chief talent officer” who also interfaces with potential and current clients including large telecommunications company, a big private equity firm, a large healthcare company and a global professional services firm. Chet notes the high rate of unemployment in disabilities population is “out of line with their skills” and that Ventures ATL helps to “bridges this gap “ by creating jobs that utilize their areas of strength.

The Ventures ATL Management Team meet with the client and help create a set of “granular instructions” so that project is broken down into small pieces. The majority of employees at Ventures ATL work on data management projects while others work in product fulfillment.

From Website:

Ventures ATL is a nonprofit whose mission is to provide opportunities for meaningful and sustainable employment to qualified adults with autism or other developmental differences.

Ventures ATL is designed to address an important issue – Approximately 80% of these adults are unemployed (or underemployed), while at the same time, there is a strong demand for people with the skills these adults possess. While these adults may face several challenges in the job market (limited “soft skills”, transportation barriers, diminished community support in adulthood), they often have a relatively strong ability to perform the essential functions of many jobs. Ventures ATL bridges the “supply and demand gap,” enabling our employees to derive the personal satisfaction of meaningful employment and providing qualified resources to our business partners. We enable adults with autism to have access to a career path that is not otherwise available to them.

Operational Model:

The Ventures ATL model differs from those of other organizations in Atlanta that support the employment goals of such adults. The Ventures ATL approach is not based on a placement model but rather the concept that we employ these adults as we operate a portfolio of businesses that line up with their strengths and interests. In that respect, we take a fundamentally different approach that is designed to complement the existing efforts in the Atlanta market.

There are two aspects of sustainability that are essential to the operating principles of Ventures ATL. First, we operate businesses for which there is expected to be substantial and sustainable commercial demand for the services and products we provide. Second, the businesses we operate will provide jobs that line up with the abilities and interests of the individuals we employ. This is designed to ensure that our employees will have a strong chance of deriving long-term success and job satisfaction.

We recognize that engaging with Ventures ATL may have a certain corporate social responsibility element by providing jobs to an underutilized but capable domestic resource. However, it is critical that our engagements with customers support their primary business objectives and specific needs. We are committed to providing high quality services at a competitive price in areas of need for our clients.

While we are structured as a nonprofit, we believe that our organization’s enduring success is tied to our application of disciplines and practices typically found in successful for-profit business enterprises. Therefore, we will maintain a focus on identifying areas where the skills of our employees can be deployed to produce true business value to our customers in areas of genuine commercial demand.

Services:

Data Management Services: Our data management service line involves the provision of data management and other related services. Many enterprises wrestle with various data issues. This issue is particularly acute with respect to raw or unstructured data. This type of work is frequently outsourced to many third-party service providers (sometimes to offshore locations). We believe that we can successfully fill a niche by using an underutilized domestic talent pool to provide top-quality service at a competitive price. The data management business represents a very good fit for many adults on the autism spectrum as their ability to focus on information and data in a highly literal way makes them particularly effective in this role.

Product Fulfillment Services: Facilitating the fulfillment process by performing the pick, pack, label, and ship steps in the delivery of products to customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

Lessons Learned:

The primary lessons involve staying focused on one’s strategic objectives and operational model while remaining open-minded about potential new business opportunities. The first lesson-there are many companies who like our mission and may want to carve out some work we can perform for them. However, this well-intentioned gesture may not be the best utilization of our resources or the best chance for us to add value to a client. While it is hard to say no to a client that wants to give us business, it is sometime important to engage in projects where we can add the most value as the client will appreciate our skills even more in the long run.

The second lesson is to choose to work in areas where there is real commercial demand for our services. Staying connected to market trends is one of the best ways to ensure long-term financial sustainability for Ventures ATL and success for our employees. It is also a good way to learn of new opportunities for growth and expansion.

The third lesson is to do everything we can to make the experience of working at Ventures ATL rewarding and enjoyable for our employees. While we perform many “mission-critical “projects for our clients, we try to do it in a way that promotes personal growth and enjoyment for our team members.

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85 Oak Street

Hackensack NJ 07601

https://www.greensdogood.com/

https://www.reedautismservices.com/

Chantelle Walker CEO (Reed Autism Services): cwalker@reedfoundationforautism.org

Lisa Goldstein-sales director: lgoldstein@reedfoundationforautism.org

Jessalin Jaume-workforce development coordinator: jjaume@greensdogood.com

Matt Ravetier–farm manager

Jen Faust, Director of Operations-Workforce Development program, contact jfaust@reedfoundationforautism.org.

From Website:

vertical hydroponic farming for people with disabilities, one of innovative programs of REED Autism Services of New Jersey. Farm supplies fresh greens to groceries, restaurants and food bank. Grads of REED’s teen internship program have access to placement in “green collar” field.”

My Visit:

I initially met Jake through his participation on an Israel trip where I served as group leader. As I got to know Jake during the trip, I learned that he is an entrepreneur and an incredibly interesting young mI was eager to visit Greens Do Good after a colleague mentioned their work. I had previously visited Vertical Harvest in Jackson, WY. It is not easy to find Greens Do Good as they are located in an industrial area of Hackensack, New Jersey in a complex of warehouses and garages. Behind the garage doors is a most impressive operation where people with disabilities are trained in hydroponic farming. Every aspect of the training, farming and distribution are carefully thought out and clients learn valuable work skills.

The tour started with work force development specialist, Jessalin explaining the training and showing state of the art visuals displayed on the walls (to serve as reminders of every step of the process) and a large computer screen displaying other relevant coaching tools. The workplace has various stations for each aspect of the work. There are two work slots per day of anywhere from one to three hours each. Three training semesters are offered per years.

Matt, the farm manager, provided a tour of the plant and described the technical aspects of watering, lighting and harvesting in detail. Microgreens and four main greens including basil, lettuce, kale and arugula are grown. Greens Do Good has many community partners and participates in the Bergen County Food Security Task Force.

LFrom Website:

Our mission is to transform the way our local community sources healthy produce by providing the freshest ingredients in a sustainable and socially responsible way. The program utilizes hydroponic farming, an innovative method of growing plants in a controlled, indoor environment. We use energy-efficient watering and lighting systems to nurture our crops, which are planted in stacked trays.

When you walk into Greens Do Good, among the stacked trays of basil, microgreens, and lettuce, you’ll see teens and adults with autism hard at work. Each person takes on tasks that match their interests and abilities, including crop maintenance, packaging, and inventory.

Through our Workforce Development Program, we provide more than 800 hours of training each year to teens with autism, teaching them environmentally sustainable practices along withessential job skills. This helps them build their resumes and lays the foundation for future employment. For our adult participants, we offer paid employment opportunities, valuable work experience, and meaningful community integration. To amplify the progress we’re making, we’re also working to grow our employment pipeline in partnership with other “green” businesses.

Our environment-friendly farming methods allow for year-round growing, using less space, water, and energy than traditional farms. We sell our products through home delivery and to local restaurants, country clubs, supermarkets, and food service providers — raising autism awareness as we go. We partnered with the Bergen County Food Security Task Force to provide surplus produce to families in need, right in our community.

Greens Do Good is part of the REED Autism Services family of programs, which provides support for individuals with autism so they can thrive and achieve their full potential throughout their lives.

Workforce Development:

Through our Workforce Development Program, we provide pre-employment training to teens with autism, teaching them environmentally sustainable practices and offering hands-on experience.

With the anticipated growth of the global hydroponics market approaching 22.5% through 2025, Greens Do Good provides a unique opportunity for job training within an expanding industry and works with many area schools and programs including:

Lessons Learned:

-I think first of all, we’ve learned that the demand for novel employment settings and experiences is significant. We were shocked by the response we received from a few press pieces after we launched the program.

-Employing the autism community continues to require a very individualized, methodical and supportive approach. Our interns who have lower support needs often work quickly and may want tasks of increasing responsibility, but in some cases don’t know how to advocate for that. Instead they may become frustrated when the work isn’t meeting their expectations, but perhaps cannot articulate the ‘why’. It’s required our team to hone a different set of skills that we are still refining.

-My third, and favorite lesson, is really just how we’ve observed the farm as its own ecosystem – and I’m not talking about the produce! On any given day you tour the farm and you see people with autism working alongside their neurotypical counterparts, talking about music, or politics, or life in general and I’m reminded that this is why Greens Do Good is so important. It’s work, yes, but it’s also fun. There’s a sense of accomplishment, belonging, and camaraderie. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my career – I’m grateful to the team who had this wild idea many years ago to start an indoor hydroponic farm with the goal of employing adults with autism.

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Silver Spring, MD (Kemp Mill neighborhood)
Website: ShredSupport.com
Email: Shred4U2@gmail.com (contacts:  Dina and Amy)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shredsupport

“Shred Support is a shredding service located in the Kemp Mill neighborhood of Silver Spring, MD that is committed to the employment of people with disabilities.  When you use Shred Support, your documents will be confidentially destroyed and recycled.  Our shred team is friendly and professional. Just ask us for a reference at any time or see our testimonials.”

My Personal Connection:

I know the two founders, Uriel and Jacob, from our summers together in the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England.  This Jewish summer camp includes campers with intellectual and developmental disabilities and offers a vocational training program.  Uriel and Jacob, two talented 20-somethings with Down Syndrome, have participated in the vocational training program for over 5 years, where they worked in the camp’s mail, package and fax center.  Outside of camp, Jacob has worked at a UPS store and Uriel at the University of Maryland Hillel in their food service program.  I have continued to be in touch with both young men and their families as they have explored longer term employment.  Both also participate in the camping movements year round virtual vocational training and socialization program which was created during the COVID pandemic.

From the Website:

It’s estimated that one third of the workforce has been working from home since March 2020. Couple that with all who have used the time at home to sort & organize…and that’s a lot of documents piling up!  Shred Support is here to help! Your documents will be confidentially destroyed and recycled (yes, Shred Support is more than just friendly – it’s Eco-Friendly too).

Just 37 percent of working-age people with disabilities have a job, compared to 77 percent of people without disabilities. This staggering statistic represents over 12.5 million working-age people with disabilities who want to work and who are a valuable asset to the workforce.  Shred Support aims to smash that statistic by employing adults with disabilities who are ready to get to work and be a productive member of the community.  

Founders and owners Jacob and Uriel have a track record of reliability & exceptional work ethic. They have each been involved in self-directed programming since 2018 and bring these qualities & professionalism to each task.  

How Does Shred Support Work?

-Fill out a work request form and someone will reply within 2-3 business days.  A Shred Support Specialist will be assigned to you and we will set up a drop-off date and address.

-Bring your paper in a shred-support bag, your own bag, or a box to the drop-off point on the assigned date. (We cannot shred folders, CDs, plastic envelopes, binder clips, adhesive-backed labels, polaroid pictures).

-We will weigh the shred order so we can determine the cost. (Pricing:  $1.50 per pound for new customers and $1.25 for returning customers)

-Your shredding will be destroyed confidentially and then recycled.

-We will send you your invoice which will also be your confirmation that the shred job has been completed.

Lessons Learned/Challenges:

-It has been challenging finding similar disability run shredding businesses with whom to consult; that said we found one in Houston and the mom who runs it was incredibly helpful.

-Need for business and legal advice regarding business structure and joint proprietorship

-Measuring success and becoming profitable (plans include feasibility study and 5-year business plan).  

-Consider seeking investors

-Importance of maintaining working equipment

-We would like to have a space for Uriel and Jacob to work together – in an ideal world outside of both homes.  However, Covid is still too prevalent, so we are hopeful for a space in one of the homes so they can at least work together.

– We would like to explore options for better marketing – maybe a college student intern.  This would include social media as well as targeted emails.

– Once we have a bigger space, we would like to invest in larger and more reliable equipment.

– Sometime in the next year, we would like to seek out business contracts.  We would purchase locked shred containers that offices would drop their “to-be’shredded” papers into and then they would call for a pick-up when the container becomes full.  We would have a different pay structure for clients with contracts with us.

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 Gardening and Farm Work at Kibbutz Shluchot

Kibbutz Shluchot
Emek HaMaayanot, 1091000 Israel
https://www.facebook.com/shai.asher.miltons.gift
http://shai-asher.com (Coming Soon!)
Program Director: Menachem Stolpner
Stolpner247@gmail.com
972 54 674 6223

“we have begun to grow in earnest both a variety of herbs in the green house and vegetables in our raised bed garden. We have successfully raised tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, broccoli & cauliflower amongst others- all for our own use. In the greenhouse, we have grown mother plants used for propagation, from seeds, cuttings and plantings and created a stock of herbs which include: mint, oregano, basil, thyme, lemon verbena & sage which we dry and package. Perhaps our most exciting growth items has been our long-term project of supplying organically grown ginger, turmeric and moringa for sale in the open market. These products were chosen for their important health qualities and limited availability locally. It is our hope that these “Cash Crops” will assist us on our path toward greater financial self-sufficiency. In addition, program participants do woodworking, repurposing discarded materials and creating them into tables, shelving and other furniture. Apprentices have previously secured work on the Kibbutz in the communal dining room, kitchen, mini-market, Kibbutz Zoo, Dairy and the turkey coops both on the kibbutz and on the outside. Future plans include expansion into areas of general maintenance, bicycle repair and services to the elderly.”

In the News:

https://www.jpost.com/opinion/the-israeli-hiring-the-disabled-to-grow-healing-turmeric-and-moringa-646807

https://www.israel21c.org/special-needs-adults-find-meaningful-work-on-kibbutz-farm/

Jewish Life Magazine (South Africa) Issue 131 August 2019

From the Program’s Materials:

Shai Asher (Milton’s Gift), is an apprenticeship program for adults with special needs where they learn trades and develop life skills within the supportive and inclusive environment of the greater kibbutz community. Menachem Stolpner, a former New York social worker, immigrated to the kibbutz in 1997, worked in the kibbutz dairy for 13 years, and founded the program in 2013.  Stolpner strongly believes that individuals with special needs deserve as much purpose, dignity and meaningful opportunities as anyone else.  The number of people served by the program has risen to more than 60 over the course of the past 8 years. Future plans include growing individualized herb plants for home use and selling them at local food markets; planting moringa plants outdoors to grow as trees to increase stock material; increasing turmeric production (to either process or sell fresh to the local Israeli organic market) and transporting workers on educational outings to nearby greenhouses and agricultural projects.

The Coronavirus pandemic posed many challenges to the program mainly through general governmental restrictions on movement and proximity. Shai Asher overcame many of these restrictions due to dispensations given to people classified as “special needs” and as workers in agriculture. This included: relaxing limitations on how far one could travel from one’s home (1km. for general public), limit on group congregation (10), restrictions on indoor activities (all our work takes place outdoors) and dispensations given to agricultural work (unfettered). Closure of the program lasted just 2 weeks during a time of more than a year. Results of our “freedom to work” were a stream of requests for placement in our program, resulting in a significant increase of the workforce. Improvement projects slowed significantly due to permit approval delays and the restrictions on travel.  Instead, we did the work by ourselves including construction cold frame, compost storage bins, compost sifter and a deck.

Additional Information about Shai Asher: Transitional Employment Solutions

Mission:

To provide meaningful vocational/apprenticeship training, employment and career development for adults with intellectual, developmental, social or physical disabilities. The program focuses both on preparing individuals to enter/reenter the job market as well as providing enriching and meaningful work opportunities for those better suited to a sheltered environment.

Purpose:

The program bridges the gap between school (which ends at age 21) and employment in the open market by providing participants with the essential knowledge, skills and “hands on” experiences needed to succeed. Our goal is to increase career options, encourage greater independence and help reduce individual’s dependence on governmental financial support. The program seeks to address the greater than 70% unemployment rate in Israel for people living with a disability.

Challenges/Lessons Learned/Advice:

-financial:

Experience has shown me that most issues surrounding independent innovative projects in Israel face financial challenges. Interest both from families with a special needs individual and established programs serving the population hold our work in high regard but this rarely translates into financial support as funds are mostly through established channels.

Our funding comes from private individuals or foundations who are open to funding new and innovative approaches. During the Covid period, I have found that people and foundations with resources were even more generous than usual. However, with the pandemic effecting every human being the level of priority for funding “special needs” dropped significantly in general.    

-lack of support of host institution

Here too, priorities and resources shifted toward areas other than special needs. In terms of my Kibbutz community, we were left to our own devices to “sink or swim”. I am happy to report that we ended the year thriving: tripling our work force, both professional and special, increased our budget significantly and completed a portion of planned renovations.

-transportation to program (especially during Covid)

(see paragraph 2  “from the program materials)

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