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Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center Foundation

Mission: The mission of the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center Foundation (the Foundation) is to raise funds and secure resources to support vocational training and rehabilitative care at the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center (WWRC).

Community Need: The WWRC Foundation’s goal is to expand WWRC’s vocational rehabilitation services so that Virginians with disabilities can receive training needed to secure gainful employment and to experience personal and economic independence. Each of the WWRC graduates has transformed him/herself into a taxpaying citizen rather than remaining dependent on government programs. As people with disabilities gain employment, welfare and institutionalization costs are reduced that save taxpayers millions of dollars. It is estimated that for every $1 invested in education and training of WWRC’s students, the return on this investment is $10 over the individual’s working life.

Primary Activities: The Foundation was established to raise and provide funding to expand the number of students served, enable the purchase of important training and life-skills equipment, assist in facilities development, and to add value to the day-to-day teaching, learning, and living of everyone at WWRC. The Foundation has so far raised over $4,300,000 to improve the quality of life for the students and to provide needed materials and equipment beyond the scope of funding from the Commonwealth.

Constituents Served: Persons with disabilities in the state of Virginia (16 years of age and older) who have been networked through their local Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services Office (DARS) are eligible for services through WWRC.  In 2017, WWRC served 2,425 individuals.  Their age ranges were: 21 and under: (1,911 or 78.8%); 22-29 (220 or 9.1%); 30-39 (84 or 3.5%); 40-49 (69 or 2.8%); 50-59 (102 or 4.2%); and 60+ (39 or 1.6%). White: 61%; African American: 28%; Hispanic 6%; Asian 2%; Persons reporting two or more races: 3%.  Male: 65.9% and female: 34.1%.

Program Details: The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Workforce Studio podcast has become a key element to the WWRC Foundation Cares Program. The podcast has proven to be a capacity building resource as they share the success stories of individuals with disabilities, their courageous journeys through vocational rehabilitation and how they overcome the obstacles to independence and employment.  They highlight the Champions of Business that hire individuals with disabilities to enrich their companies’ work cultures and strengthen their workforce, as well as WWRC’s staff who embody the vision of success and advancement through compassion and care.  Through use of this tool the Foundation helps to connect businesses with individuals ready to enter the workforce.  The podcast has been promoted by key partners, including the VMA, George Washington University and UVA who now require entry-level rehabilitation counselors to listen to episodes as part of their courses.  They have received emails from other disability service organizations about how they could evolve a relationship with the Foundation to produce special episodes to use when promoting their work with those with disabilities within their organizations.  The podcast is growing exponentially is recognized as the first of its kind and has become America’s voice for Vocational Rehabilitation.

Amount Requested: $6,000

Operating Budget: $171,550

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