June 16, 2015
Acertitude partners with Community Work Services, a division of Fedcap
With his signature smile lighting up the room, Franklin celebrated his birthday at Acertitude surrounded by his co-workers. For Franklin, who has a learning disability, being able to share an Oreo cake (his favorite) with his teammates at a company where he is making a meaningful contribution is something that he appreciates with enthusiasm.
Thanks to the work of Fedcap, an organization that creates opportunities for people who face barriers to employment by providing vocational training and job placement services, more than 40,000 people like Franklin find jobs that fit their skillset, enabling them to overcome perceived limitations and achieve economic independence.
The heightened need for Fedcap in Rhode Island was clear when a federal investigation shut down the state’s sheltered workshops, which employed people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and paid them wages as low as $1.57 per hour. Fedcap made it their mission to help people with barriers to employment find jobs that paid wages that would allow them to be independent and rebuild their lives.
Kevin O’Neill, Founder + Managing Partner of Acertitude, joined the Fedcap Board of Directors after he learned about the program while running for public office in 2010. As the leader of a growing executive search firm serving senior executives at many of Rhode Island’s top businesses, O’Neill found himself in a unique position to help. Leveraging his local professional network, Kevin has since introduced Fedcap and its training and placement program to numerous organizations in need of additional talent, and has helped educate the local business community on Fedcap’s mission, and the service it provides.
“I’m a firm believer that people want to contribute something to the world and be productive, if given the opportunity,” O’Neill said. “We all have unique gifts; it’s a leader’s role to provide the stage where people can shine. Fedcap offers that chance and empowers people to become the best version of themselves.”
Believing that the best way to demonstrate the benefits of partnering with Fedcap was to hire someone from the program, Franklin was hired to work with O’Neill Consulting Group in February of 2014 and later transitioned to support the launch of Acertitude. A valued member of both teams, Franklin has progressed beyond his first tasks of shredding and scanning documents to working with technology tools as a documents specialist.
His case manager, Ryan Capuano, shared, "We have seen a big difference in Franklin since he started working with Acertitude. He communicates more confidently with his peers and staff at the agency, and is more outgoing when engaging in community activities. We feel that spending time with the Acertitude team and interacting in a real workplace setting has instilled this self-confidence and are grateful for the opportunity afforded to him."
“For us, having Franklin as part of our team is a great reminder of why we work so hard,” expanded O’Neill. “Franklin is full of joy, something not often found in the business world. Franklin infuses our office with childlike joy and wonderment; everything is a new adventure for him, and even the small things give him wide-eyed enthusiastic excitement.”
According to O’Neill, partnering with Fedcap and hiring someone from the Community Work Services division is not charity. Rather, it is “teaching a man to fish, rather than giving a man a fish,” O’Neill said. In other words, helping people help themselves. While hiring Franklin has provided him with a job, independence, and a sense of belonging, Acertitude has benefited from the partnership as well.
“The paradox is that the game is rigged,” O’Neill said. “The ‘giver’ gets it all. With Franklin, we’re getting more than we’re giving. He has become part of our team and family, and brought energy to our office that has enhanced us as a whole.”
If you are interested in learning more about Fedcap, go to www.fedcap.org.