First Coast Connect: Disability Nonprofit Gets State Money For New Jobs Program

Jul 24, 2017

Credit The Arc Jacksonville

A Jacksonville nonprofit that helps people with developmental disabilities get work is getting a leg up through some new state funding.

Arc Jacksonville is launching a new employment initiative thanks to $300,000 in the Florida budget this year.

For more than 50 years, the Arc Jacksonville has been a bridge between employers and potential workers with disabilities, specifically those with Down syndrome.

Now, Arc CEO Jim Whitaker said the nonprofit is ready to expand with a new initiative designed to make the transition to working life even smoother. It all starts with a research project, he said.

“We’re going to do a nationwide best practices search. So, our staff is going to start visiting places throughout the country who actually look at employment a bit differently. One of the models we’re looking is actually the possibility of the Arc Jacksonville opening our own businesses,” he said Monday on “First Coast Connect.”

In time, Whitaker would like the Arc own to own companies where people with disabilities can work alongside trained professionals in a controlled environment.

But for now, the Arc will start by getting five people with disabilities jobs and sending them to work with an Arc employee to help them through the process.

Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, and Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, helped get this year’s funding approved. They told our partner News4Jax they hope to keep that money flowing for at least another two years.

To listen to “First Coast Connect” fill-in host Ryan Benk’s full conversation with Arc Jacksonville Jim Whitaker, as well as Monday’s entire show, click here.

Ryan Benk can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @RyanMichaelBenk.