Business Connections in the News

    Kyle and Trey work for Dominion Energy as HR process assistants. After one year on the job, they share their story.

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    "I can and I will," has been Trey"s mantra throughout his life. In a CBS interview, he explains how he applies this to his work with Dominion.

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    Side by side portraits of Kyle and Trey

    Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employer Practices for Individuals with Disabilities

    The RRTC-EP investigates the most successful business practices which companies utilize to hire and retain workers with disabilities. The project includes four studies, the largest takes place in partnership with Bon Secours Virginia Health System, a long term leader in diversity and hiring of persons with disabilities.

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    Woman in wheelchair in an office.

    Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project on Customized Employment

    The VCU-DRRP helps young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder, to achieve competitive employment based on the individual's choices, interests and skills. The project's overall objective is to test the effectiveness of customized employment as an intervention to facilitate employment for youth with disabilities.

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    Two people looking at an iPad.

    VCU Autism Center for Excellence

    VCU-ACE is a university-based technical assistance, professional development, and educational research center for Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Commonwealth of Virginia. VCU-ACE improves services and supports for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by promoting the implementation of research-based practices in schools and the community through training, technical assistance, research, and collaboration.

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    Two people looking at an iPad.

    Center on Transition Innovations

    The Center on Transition Innovations (CTI) at Virginia Commonwealth University is a centralized statewide portal for information, resources, demonstration, and research for educators and other stakeholders in the transition of youth with disabilities. CTI provides evidence-based resources and information along with emerging practices in the field. The results of research studies and demonstration projects conducted here in Virginia help us shape the ongoing work of CTI.

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    Two people looking at an iPad.

    Work Incentives Planning & Assistance National Training and Data Center

    The Virginia Commonwealth University National Training and Data Center (NTDC) provides comprehensive training and technical assistance to Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) projects, the Ticket to Work Help Line, and community partners to ensure accurate and timely support for beneficiaries on the road to employment and financial independence.

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    Two people looking at an iPad.
Families, advocates and providers hold dialogue on autism at Richmond Time Dispatch's Public Square - Dr. Paul Wehman, Director of VCU's Autism Center for Excellence and of the VCU Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, served as a panelist at the forum.
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Terry's Case Study


Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project on Customized Employment - Social Capital has multiple definitions; however, social connectedness is the fundamental premise. Social Capital refers to relationships, social networks and how people help one another. Relationships are important to a person’s well-being and may generate Social Capital. Social Capital may be important for anyone’s career path. Many job seekers with and without disabilities obtain employment because of who they know or who their network of friends know. This case study highlights how one young woman found her customized job using Social Capital.

Upcoming Webcast - July 24

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Achieving Competitive Customized Employment through Specialized Services (ACCESS) - This webcast will present information from a grant on customized employment awarded to the University of South Florida from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health (NIMH/NIH). ACCESS is testing customized employment as an intervention to determine its impact on the competitive integrated employment outcomes for adults with autism over the age of 22.

Fact Sheet

DRRP Fact Sheet

Customized Employment Topics: Social Capital - Relationships form as people interact with each other at home, work, and in the community. Relationships help create a quality life and are critical to a person’s well-being. There is data indicating that positive relationships contribute to longevity and happiness. Physically being in the community; however, does not mean being of the community, or said another way, belonging to a community. Belonging takes more than a physical presence. A community is defined as the places where people have the opportunity to interact and form connections; where trust in and respect for each other can build; and where the norm is to help each other. These characteristics of relationships connect individuals and result in Social Capital.

Business Connections Spotlight

Crystal Hence and Jalen

Crystal Hence has all the skills a good job coach should have. She is the sole job coach for Project SEARCH at St. Francis Medical Center, where she works with an average of six students at a time. She is persistent in her job leads and not shy about approaching employers.

Program Helps Workers with Autism Thrive on The Job

Employee at Dominion Energy

Every time Trey Smith sits down in his cubicle at work, five words greet him. "I CAN AND I WILL." A nod to the determination that has guided the 20-year old since he was little. That has been his mantra throughout life. His parents John and Altrice Smith said the words best describe their son.

In their own words: Kyle J. and Trey S.

Employee at Dominion Energy

Kyle J. and Trey S. began working for Dominion Energy in the fall of last year as process assistants in Human Resources. Both Kyle and Trey both have high functioning autism and were excited to land jobs with the company. Less than a year later, while Autism Awareness Month is in full-swing, they shared their experiences with Lisa Carnahan, a senior communications specialist in Human Resources.

Families, advocates and providers hold dialogue on autism at RTD's Public Square

Dr. Wehman speaking at a Public Square forum

Addressing questions about autism and people who are diagnosed with the developmental disorder, attendees of the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s 76th Public Square on Wednesday said there needs to be more social inclusion, robust advocacy and planning for the future. Nearly 150 people attended the forum at the newspaper’s downtown offices, including experts, people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, their families, doctors, and direct service providers.

RRTC EP - Employment Services

Project Search student working in a hospital

Business Connections at VCU is a supported employment service provider for individuals in the Metro Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Warsaw areas, assisting individuals with disabilities with finding employment and providing ongoing support to clients who obtain employment. Established in 1983, the Virginia Commonwealth University RRTC provides resources for professionals, individuals with disabilities, and their representatives. Our team of nationally and internationally renowned researchers is committed to developing and advancing evidence-based practices to increase the hiring and retention for individuals with disabilities.