For Immediate Release: March 5, 2020
Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Business Relations Program Named Harvard Innovations in American Government Award Finalist
Cambridge, MA – Today, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government announced that the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Business Relations Program has been named a finalist for its 2020 Harvard Innovations in American Government Award.
For more than 30 years, the Innovations Award has recognized public-sector programs that make American government, at all levels, more efficient, creative, and effective at addressing social problems and providing services to the public. This year the award program, which is devoted to recognizing and promoting excellence and creativity in the public sector across the United States, specifically sought out exemplary models of government innovation addressing and promoting economic opportunity for all.
“Moments after being sworn into office, I made clear my commitment to establishing Ohio as a Disability Inclusion State and Model Employer of Individuals with Disabilities,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. “Working to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities is not only a smart business decision, it also helps ensure that no one is left behind.”
To help increase the number of Ohioans with disabilities in the workplace, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD)—the state of Ohio’s vocational rehabilitation agency—established a Business Relations Program to work with Employer Partners throughout Ohio to promote and support the hiring of individuals with disabilities. Through OOD's network of Employer Partners, Business Relations Specialists identify job opportunities that match job-seekers' skill sets and experience, and provide services and resources that promote an inclusive and diverse work environment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2019, the proportion of people with disabilities in the workforce was about one-third that of people without disabilities.
Selected by a team of policy experts, researchers, and practitioners, the OOD Business Relations Program was chosen in part for its novelty, effectiveness, significance, and transferability, as well as its impact on issues of economic and social mobility, inequity, and stratification.
“OOD has shown that if states are willing to invest in their workforce, they can make dramatic improvements in increasing workforce participating rates across every sector,” said Stephen Goldsmith, the Daniel Paul Professor of Practice in Government at Harvard Kennedy School and the Director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Ash Center. “The Business Relations Program is truly a national model for increasing economic opportunity for all.”
“Being a finalist for the 2020 Harvard Innovations in American Government Award validates our innovative approach to vocational rehabilitation to meet the needs of job seekers with disabilities and businesses in the 21st century,” said Kevin Miller, OOD Director.
For more information, contact:
Associate Director for Communications, Ash Center
Program Associate, Innovations in American Government Awards
About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence in governance and strengthens democratic institutions worldwide. Through its research, education, international programs, and government innovations awards, the Center fosters creative and effective government problem solving and serves as a catalyst for addressing many of the most pressing needs of the world’s citizens. For more information, visit www.Ash.Harvard.Edu.
OOD is the state agency responsible for empowering Ohioans with disabilities through employment, disability determinations, and independence.