United Way Ottawa and partners with the Employment Accessibility Resource Network (EARN) announced that they secured a $142,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The grant, to be distributed over three years, will support EARN’s work that brings employers and service providers together with the goal of increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities in Ottawa. The funding will build EARN’s capacity to reach out to more employers, provide additional networking sessions, enhance EARN’s annual conference and support the creation of assessment tools to measure the results of EARN’s work.
“The Ontario Trillium Foundation provides grants that have a direct impact on communities across the province and I’m pleased to see that these funds will support such important work here in Ottawa,” said Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario's Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs and the Member of Provincial Parliament for Ottawa-Vanier. “I would like to thank United Way and the partners of EARN for working so hard to make a difference in the lives of people in our community.  It is truly important work that is making our city a better place for everyone.”
Already, EARN has more than 30 partners, in the public, private and non-profit sectors, that have worked together to connect more than 85 people with disabilities with a job in Ottawa.
Through EARN, organizations that provide employment supports for people with disabilities link employers with this often untapped pool of talent. Employers gain the benefits of fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace, while enabling people with disabilities to fully participate in their community.
“The work we are doing through EARN is invaluable. It is changing how people view disability in our community,” said Kelly Mertl, Chair of EARN Employer Group, and Specialist, Talent Management, Hydro Ottawa. “With this new funding, we will open more doors for people with disabilities in workplaces across Ottawa.”
“Many employers are not aware of the resources available to help them to hire, accommodate and retain employees with disabilities,” said Brian Carriere, Chair of EARN Steering Committee and Relationship Manager, Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa. “There are also many myths and misconceptions about the costs of accommodating people with disabilities. But thanks to EARN, workplaces come to realize that people with disabilities are talented and dedicated employees. In many cases, they are among the best employees.
Only 43 percent of people with disabilities in Ottawa participate in the labour market – compared with 70 percent of the general population. In addition, one in six people with disabilities live below the poverty line. By providing employment opportunities, EARN provides a pathway out of poverty for people with disabilities.
“United Way strives to bring the right people, organizations and skills to the table to tackle our city’s most pressing problems,” said Jamie McCracken, Chair, Board of Directors, United Way. “Today, the Ontario Trillium Foundation joined us and our partners in supporting EARN’s important work.  Together, we will build on the success of this community-wide initiative aimed at removing all the obstacles that stand in the way of people with disabilities finding jobs in our community.”

About EARN:

Launched in 2011, the Employment Accessibility Resource Network (EARN) is a United Way-led community-wide initiative that brings together employers and service providers with a goal of increasing opportunities for meaningful employment for people with disabilities. To achieve this goal, EARN is implementing three key strategies: to increase service provider coordination, to engage employers and to create a system that matches talented people with employers. EARN’s partners include: Access Infinity Management; Algonquin College; Canadian Mental Health Association; Canadian Security Intelligence Service; City of Ottawa; Causeway Work Centre; Enterprise Holdings, Graybridge Malkam; LiveWorkPlay; Ministry of Community and Social Services; Ottawa Independent Living Resource Centre; Performance Plus Rehabilitative Care Inc.; ScotiaBank; Service Canada; TD Canada Trust; Telfer School of Management, the University of Ottawa and United Way Ottawa.

About United Way:

United Way Ottawa’s mission is to bring people and resources together to build a strong, healthy, safe community for all. We are best known for our work raising and distributing funds to community agencies that help people. But our true business is engagement, providing ways for contributors — be they donors, partners or others — to achieve their aspirations for our community through United Way. Our purpose is to improve people’s lives today and to create enduring, measurable and meaningful social change in our community.

About 0ntario Trillium Foundation:

A leading grantmaker in Canada, the Ontario Trillium Foundation strengthens the capacity of the voluntary sector through investments in community-based initiatives. An agency of the Government of Ontario, OTF builds healthy and vibrant communities. For more information about the Ontario Trillium Foundation, visit www.otf.ca
For more information, please contact:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Manager, Media Relations, United Way Ottawa
Mobile: 613-294-8128.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Communications Officer, Event Planning, Ontario Trillium Foundation
Phone: 1-800-263-2887 ext. 213; E-mail.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Executive Assistant, Madeleine Meilleur, MPP for Ottawa-Vanier
Phone: 613-744-4484.

Read the full press release [This link is no longer available] from United Way for more details.