Alex Eller

The County of San Diego Partners with PRIDE Industries to Create Internships for People With Disabilities


July celebrates the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibited discrimination based on disability and mandated reasonable accommodations and accessibility. At PRIDE Industries, we know that people with disabilities have many strengths and abilities that make them wonderful employees. Despite the progress made in inclusive hiring practices, they still remain excluded from employment opportunities.

We are proud to bridge this gap by partnering with the County of San Diego’s for their relaunch of Jay’s Program: an internship program for people with disabilities. Our staff, funded by generous donors to The Michael Ziegler PRIDE Industries Foundation, connects job seekers with intellectual and developmental disabilities with six-month, part-time, paid internship opportunities with the County. 

Join us in our mission

Your donations make it possible for us to offer customized training programs and support that people with disabilities need to gain employment.

PRIDE Industries helps BunkTrunk® build storage products for college-bound students.

BunkTrunk® is an innovative company founded by two San Diego entrepreneurs who developed a unique storage system which easily fit in dorm rooms to keep the belongings of college students safe.

Situation

When Guy Plouffe‘s daughter entered college, she quickly became concerned about storing her laptop and other valuable items when she was away from her dorm room. Regular safes were too big, heavy, and expensive to be considered an option, especially for the typical college student on a budget.

 

Guy quickly thought of a solution. He developed a lightweight storage compartment which attaches to dorm room beds and locks securely. His daughter’s roommate loved it as well, and Guy made another one for her. The concept for BunkTrunk® was then created.

Solution

Guy had reached the first step in his business plan, creating a unique storage system that would meet the needs of countless college students. Executing the rest of the plan, however, proved more difficult. The expense of raw materials, as well as skyrocketing labor costs, created major obstacles. But Guy didn’t find the talent he needed. So, he decided to turn to PRIDE Industries.

After reviewing a step-by-step video on how to put these trunks together, our manufacturing experts determined that our team members with disabilities could assemble the trunks.

And they were right.

PRIDE Industries’ employees mount the hinges, install the doors, conduct quality assessments, and package the final Bunk Trunk for shipping. Thanks to the work of PRIDE Industries’ inclusive team, about 30-45 Bunk Trunks are shipped every week—all over the United States.

“They have incredible attention to detail,” says Darla Reed, Co-Owner of BunkTrunk®.

As of today, thousands of the trunks have been sold to students all over the country. And, the price point of the BunkTrunk® hovers around $300—perfectly affordable for the college market.

Services Provided

  • Building, mounting, and packaging
  • Packaging and shipping
Bunk Trunk Logo

“So many people have gifts to give, including people with disabilities. We are proud to create opportunities and partner with PRIDE Industries to help reduce the stress for college students and their parents.”

— Darla Reed, Co-Owner

When the need for skilled hospital workers skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals scrambled to find staff. This shortage included environmental technicians—employees who contribute significantly to the health and safety of patients, staff, and guests by keeping healthcare facilities clean.


With the emergence of this challenge, we saw a chance to help solve it—all while expanding employment for people with disabilities. Thanks to generous support to The Michael Ziegler PRIDE Industries Foundation, including a grant from Kaiser Permanente, we created a skills lab to train participants for roles as environmental technicians. Over 30 individuals have now completed the course and become eligible for a significant pay raise and new career path.

Join us in our mission

Your donations make it possible for us to offer customized training programs and support that people with disabilities need to gain employment.

For many people, the first job out of high school is the most memorable one. Sometimes it’s even life-changing, as it provides a way to explore careers, build experience, and earn a paycheck. For young adults with disabilities, however, such opportunities remain elusive. Ultimately, this work gap can impede their skill-set acquisition and lifetime earning potential.

 

 

PRIDE Industries’ dedicated Workforce Inclusion team is changing this. Supported by generous donors, our staff works directly with youth who have disabilities and are transitioning out of high school. Recently, one of our staff members received a letter from Dee Morimoto. She explains how their help led her son, Tyler Morimoto, to earn his first job as a ship loader (stevedore).

A Letter From Dee Morimoto: Gratitude for Job Coaching and Support

Tyler and I would like to extend our appreciation for all that you have done to help him find employment. Prior to signing up with PRIDE Industries, he had no experience filling out job applications, creating a resume, or knowing how to look for a job.

 

You changed all of that.

 

With practice interviews, many hours on the phone, and customized job coaching, you helped Tyler build his confidence. All of this led to him earning a job as a stevedore. 


Thank you for always being there for us during this process—even after work hours and in the early morning to ensure that Tyler learned the bus system. Even further, you helped make sure that he obtained the accommodations that he needed to succeed—and worked with his employer to make that happen.

 

It takes a village to raise a child. This is so true, especially with raising a child with a disability. Having the right job coach on your side makes all the difference to becoming successful. Tyler now is on the path to personal growth, and for this we feel blessed.

Join us in our mission

Your donations make it possible for us to help people like Tyler succeed in a career that they love.
Dee and Tyler Morimoto. Tyler is wearing his stevedore uniform.
Dee and Tyler Morimoto

Partnering to Create Employment for People With Disabilities

Parents Alliance Employment Project (PAEP) was founded in 1982 by parents fighting to mainstream their children with disabilities in public schools and their DuPage County, Illinois communities. Today, PAEP is an accredited state provider for people with disabilities serving DuPage and three surrounding counties. The organization is a leading Supported Employment Provider offering individuals with disabilities career counseling, job training and preparation, job development, job placement, job coaching, support, and follow-up services. 

Situation

PAEP helps 200 people with disabilities find employment every year. It works with Northwestern Medicine, which hosts three Project SEARCH sites that offer three 10-week internships that allow them to gain real-life vocational skills in various hospital departments. Another program, Inspired by Ability, is a paid job training program for individuals with disabilities between 18 to 24 who have exited the school system.

Even with successful programs and 40 years of experience training and placing employees with disabilities, finding the right employment situation for each client can be challenging for organizations like PAEP. “Every client has unique abilities and disabilities, and some can be challenging to place,” said Maggie Meyer, Vocational Transitionist at PAEP. “Finding the ‘job’ is just the beginning of a successful long-term placement. Employers and employees both need support.”

Solution

When Casey Nunes, Employment Success Manager at PRIDE Industries, approached PAEP about matching the organization’s candidates with job opportunities through our Inclusive Talent Solutions partners, they knew they had found an invaluable partner. “We discussed our team and our candidates and how we could advocate for our employees,” Maggie said. “We started with two janitorial positions at Ingram Micro, and the relationship has grown from there.”

“The relationship works because Casey and PRIDE Industries are on-site to support the employer and the employee,” said PAEP program manager Khushbu Davi. “Employees get the accommodations they need, and employers get workers that exceed expectations.” PRIDE Industries and PAEP have since filled many permanent positions to date at Ingram Micro.

“I can’t overstate how valuable it is to have a partner that ‘gets it,’” Maggie said. “Casey and PRIDE Industries understand that you can’t just fill a position and step away.” She tells the story of Jad, a person who is non-verbal, who faced challenges to obtaining employment due to communication barriers. PAEP and PRIDE Industries helped Jad land a position as a fulfillment packager with a supportive employer. Both are thrilled. “When you get that right fit, it is such a great feeling,” Maggie said. 

Services Provided

  • Employment Preparation and Placement
  • Job Coaching
Parents Alliance Employment Project

“The relationship works because Casey and PRIDE Industries are on-site to support the employer and the employee. Employees get the accommodations they need, and employers get workers that exceed expectations.” ”

— Khushbu Davi, PAEP Program Manager

Tony Lopez, Vice President of Manufacturing and Logistics Services for PRIDE Industries, talks with Josh Santo of Conquering Chaos. They discuss the value of employing persons with disabilities and creating an inclusive work environment for companies and employees to thrive.

Josh Santo (JS): Today, approximately 30 million working-age people in the U.S. have a disability. 75% of them are unemployed. 

 

Our next guest, Tony Lopez, is committed to creating jobs for people with disabilities and is creating change in the contract manufacturing field. As the Vice President of Manufacturing and Logistics Services for PRIDE Industries, Tony oversees multiple lines of business, including electronics and medical devices, manufacturing, supply chain logistics, contract packaging, and fulfillment. 

 

Tony, tell us about PRIDE Industries, the communities that you serve, and your manufacturing solutions.

 

 Tony Lopez (TL): PRIDE Industries was founded in the basement of a church in 1966 by a group of parents who wanted to create jobs for their adult children with disabilities. We originally operated like a true nonprofit but found this wasn’t sustainable. So, PRIDE Industries became a social enterprise, which means we employ the same strategies as commercial businesses. The difference is that any profits or surplus go back into reinvesting into our mission to create employment for people with disabilities. 

 

We operate several different lines of business, including packaging and fulfillment, electronics manufacturing, and supply chain and logistics for companies like HP, Inc. We also do contract packaging and fulfillment, including for a large hospitality food provider that we’re projecting to fulfill 5,000 work orders.

Workplace Inclusion is Good for Business, Including Manufacturing

JS: Besides solving workforce and recruitment problems, how else can hiring people with disabilities help organizations?


TL: If you look at companies with high environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings—which take workplace inclusion into consideration—they have healthier cultures, lower turnover and absenteeism, and are more profitable. And consumers take positive notice when organizations become socially conscious.


In the manufacturing field, employees with disabilities have high productivity rates and lower levels of mistakes. Contrary to popular belief, people with disabilities take safety seriously—our safety incidents are 30% lower than the industry average. Overall, the key to success as an employer is to offer opportunity and support to all your employees—with and without disabilities.

Understanding Disability and Creating an Inclusive Work Environment

JS: Can you help us understand what constitutes a disability? 

 

TL: Disability is a broad concept that encompasses invisible and visible disabilities, intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, and mental health and learning disorders. 

 

It’s important to realize that people aren’t just born with disabilities; some individuals develop them over the course of their lifetime. It might be harder for them to complete certain tasks, but focusing on their value is important. People with disabilities are capable, and often they just need the opportunity.

 

JS: What common misconceptions do you encounter about hiring people with disabilities?

 

TL: One is that people with disabilities can only do simple job tasks. However, we have seen that by adapting training and creating a supportive environment, you can allow an employee to thrive and learn new skills.

 

JS: What kind of culture is needed to recruit and retain workers with disabilities?

 

TL: Diversity and inclusion have to be part of the organization’s goals. To create a truly inclusive work environment, companies need to employ people with disabilities for all career levels—not just entry-level jobs. They can achieve this goal by assessing their workplaces and offering inclusivity training. 

 

JS: What kind of training and job coaching helps people with disabilities succeed?

 

TL: Onboarding is important. We start new employees by introducing our organization and culture, reviewing workforce inclusion support and accommodations, and explaining our learning and development opportunities. Training and support, including being provided with a job coach, is customized to each person’s skills and goals. 

We can help your business grow

We offer cost-effective manufacturing and logistics services in a wide variety of industries.

“In manufacturing, employees with disabilities have high productivity rates and lower levels of mistakes.”

—Tony Lopez, Vice President of Manufacturing and Logistics for PRIDE Industries