Did you know that Adelante has been helping people with disabilities get jobs for over three decades? In fact, when it comes to finding people jobs, competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities is Adelante’s number one priority. This month, we are taking an in-depth look at Adelante’s supported employment program, also known as EmployAbility.

What is Competitive Integrated Employment?

“Competitive integrated employment” (known in our field as CIE) is a fancy phrase for a typical work setting in the community. These job sites are in the community with local businesses, employees are paid the going wage (at least minimum wage), and most employees at these businesses do not have disabilities. Our Adelante clients are valuable members of our community. Therefore, when people with disabilities have jobs in these settings, others are able to see their value and dedication, as well.

When people with disabilities get jobs, they frequently succeed and become loyal employees.

Even though people with disabilities often experience underemployment or unemployment, they also experience job stability. In fact, 62% of adults with development disabilities employed in a competitive setting have been working at their job for 3 years or more. Adelante EmployAbility client David, for example, has been with his job for several years.

Meet EmployAbility Client David

David works at a local restaurant, Savoy Bar and Grill, and is a big asset to them. He helps with prep tasks at the restaurant. He folds napkins and occasionally rolls silverware or cleans chairs.

David is very social, and like for many of us, work is a major social outlet for him. He greets all of his coworkers, and asks them about their pets and families. Because David folds a LOT of napkins, he enjoys music and takes short dance breaks to boost his energy.

David poses with Kevin. We work with many community partners to help people with disabilities get jobs.
David with Kevin in 2019. Adelante helps people with disabilities find jobs in the community.

David’s job brings a new aspect and purpose to his life, and his work product brings value to Savoy, as well. “He brings a good positive attitude, a good work ethic and questions. He likes to ask questions and listens to the answers. It’s fun for all of us!” said Kevin Roessler, owner of Savoy.

Adelante’s services for helping people with disabilities find employment are always highly customized. What we do for each client depends on that individual’s strengths and needs. For example, some clients may need help with a resume, others may need help exploring jobs best for them, and some may need an ongoing job coach.

David aspires to work hard in his job because he wants to earn good money, keep busy, and do social activities. He takes several large packages of napkins and has a goal of finishing them all. Accomplishing a lot during the day satisfies him. “He is proud of his ‘output’ and we’re appreciative,” said Kevin. “I know the servers who are directly benefiting from his work are also appreciative.”

David looks at the camera. Rolled silverware is in front of him on the table. He is wearing a mask.
David, like many people with disabilities, is greatly empowered by his work in the community.

NEON: Supporting nonprofits that help people with disabilities get jobs.

Adelante is consistently looking at the best practices across the country for ideas to implement. One such initiative is NEON. NEON stands for: “National Expansion of Employment Opportunities Network.” The NEON Project is an initiative of the Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

This initiative is seeking to create more job opportunities for people with disabilities. The NEON project accomplishes this by working with nonprofit service providers like Adelante. They target other people traditionally excluded from the workforce, too.

Overall, ODEP assists nonprofits by providing technical assistance with subject matter experts.

“NEON also provides one-on-one technical support for the local provider organizations that are members within each nonprofit. In addition, NEON offers its participating organizations an opportunity to network with one another and to learn about effective strategies through peer-to-peer mentoring.”


Adelante Employees Get Professional Development Through the UNM College of Employment Services

Adelante works with partners who help us provide professional development to our employees. For example, several Adelante EmployAbility team members have taken an Employment Services course with UNM. This 15-week course is offered by the UNM Center for Development and Disability. It consists of about 26 hours of training. It covers topics like job creation, funding, and business perspectives. These activities offer growth to the employees and improve employment outcomes for our clients.

Job coach Terry holds her CES certificate.
Terry, an member of Adelante’s EmployAbility team, completed a College of Employment Services (CES) course with the UNM Center for Development and Disability to build her skills supporting people with disabilities in the workforce.


Adelante employees have earned ACRE certifications. This stands for “Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators.” According to ACRE’s website, ACRE members seek to improve the success and quality of life for clients through employment services.

ACRE offers two types of certificates, each having a minimum of 40 hours of training:

  1. Employment Services (basic and professional levels)
  2. Employment Services with an Emphasis on Customized Employment (basic and professional levels)

Professional level training is all of the ACRE training, plus one year of experience in employment services.

Training covers a wide range of topics, like rights, history, and legislation; to career exploration, accommodation requests, and interacting with employers.

Employment Takes a Community

When asked what advice he’d give to employers who are considering hiring a person with a disability, Kevin from Savoy said:

I would ask them to give it a try.  If it doesn’t work out it doesn’t work out.  Don’t let the fear of what you may not fully know or understand stop you from trying to be open to a new experience and creating one at the same time for another human being.”  

In short, hiring a person with a disability is similar to hiring any new employee. You give people a chance to do a job. In turn, they have an opportunity to learn and grow in a new company. Both parties hope it will be a good fit.

Adelante appreciates the employers that support these efforts. After all, community employment provides our clients the opportunity to showcase their dedication and talents. Jobs provide them a social outlet, and a sense of pride and responsibility. This cannot happen without willing employers.

Job coaches and other employment team members also are a key part of the equation. Adelante is currently trying to hire more job coaches to support people with disabilities in their jobs. If you are looking for a rewarding job where you can help people achieve their dreams, consider applying for a job coach position. Just visit our job board to learn more and apply.