JEVS Human Services
Organizational mission statement (50 words or less):
For almost 80 years, JEVS Human Services has worked to help individuals throughout the Philadelphia region enhance their employability, independence, and quality of life through a broad range of programs and to create innovative and sustainable solutions to address current and future community needs.
Brief description of organization (include key programs and recent achievements, 100 words or less):
JEVS promotes an asset-based approach to working with clients to help them achieve their highest quality of life. To maximize the potential of clients who face multiple challenges, JEVS guides them in navigating the best options to meet their needs and connects them to quality services to enable them to participate fully in society. Through 35 programs, we provide Education & Career Services, Behavioral Health & Recovery Services, Community Supports & Adult Residential and Long-Term Supports & In-Home Care. For nearly eighty years, we’ve supported individuals to lead self-determined, connected, and hopeful lives that strengthen themselves, their families, and communities.
Population served (25 words or less):
JEVS serves approximately 25,000 people each year, including unemployed and underemployed youth and adults, individuals with disabilities, refugees, returning citizens, senior citizens, and individuals in recovery.
Geographic area(s) served:
Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware Counties in Pennsylvania. Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, and Cumberland Counties in New Jersey.
In which Life Science Cares Area of Focus is your organization’s work primarily?
Does the organization already receive support from or otherwise engage life science companies? If so, how?
Please outline existing volunteer opportunities or programs & initiatives that harness human capital including any current virtual volunteer events:
We expect unemployment to rise to unprecedented levels. We must provide training for workers for a new normal of rapidly changing jobs. Entire sectors of our workforce will need to pivot and gain new skills, increase education and reimagine their futures in order to obtain a family-sustaining wage. It is our goal to assist individuals to find new jobs and there are numerous ways to engage members of the community to help address these challenges. Existing volunteer opportunities include:
Mock interviews are an important step in providing skills and encouragement in getting participants back to work. We all know the importance of an interview during the job search process. Imagine how difficult it is in today's world – especially for those who may not have experience or confidence in participating in a job interview. Those with barriers to employment are going to need increased supports to get them back to work. Virtual or in-person mock interviews help reduce anxiety and stress, boost self-confidence, and allow individuals to practice their interview skills in a supportive and low-stress setting. Volunteers have an opportunity to "meet" 1:1 with JEVS clients and will make a huge impact on this individual's ability to get back to work. What a gift to be able to give someone the confidence, interview skills and supports they need – especially in this challenging time.
3 Cups of Coffee program (https://3cupsphilly.org/). 3 Cups of Coffee® is a short-term mentorship program which connects job-seeking individuals with volunteer mentors in their desired field of work. The pair meets three times for an hour over a six-week period (now taking place virtually). During those meetings the mentor provides support and advice, but most importantly, opens their professional network to connect the mentee with others in their field. Mentees receive career guidance and advice while expanding their professional networks and opportunities for employment.
Please outline proposed or potential future volunteer opportunities or programs & initiatives that harness human capital including any planned virtual volunteer events:
It is our goal to continue to expand our current mock interviews and 3 Cups of Coffee® programs with a special focus on supporting recent college graduates as they navigate the challenging job market. The informational interviews, job shadowing and other volunteer opportunities available through these programs are beneficial to many of JEVS’ participants, especially recent grads. Additional potential volunteer opportunities include:
Lessening the Digital Divide to equip individuals with essential tech skills and digital literacy.
The pandemic is shifting our lives increasingly online, but virtual working, learning, and job-seeking platforms do not accommodate everyone. Almost half of low-income adults do not have home broadband services or access to a traditional computer. People without digital literacy skills and technology access are at a significant advantage. We need to equip job seekers and workers with the digital skills and literacy to ensure they are competitive in a rapidly changing workforce. We hope to create a network of volunteers to assess digital literacy among all of our participants and help JEVS’ staff to develop plans to increase these skills. We need to provide the necessary tools, such as laptops, Chromebooks, and tablets, to enable individuals to participate in our reimagined workplace. We also need assistive technology devices to support participants/clients with disabilities.
Enhance Skills and Training to support workers in gaining in-demand job skills in the health care sector.
As a part of our sector-based workforce strategy, JEVS is continuing to enhance our work in the health care field. We have an existing partnership with Einstein Health Systems and have run pre-apprenticeship programs for medical assistant and patient service representative positions. We are also opening a Work Innovation Talent Center, operated by CVS Health Aetna, at our Orleans Technical College to provide training and career path opportunities for CVS employees and JEVS’ participants. As we work to get people the training, skills and tools they need to work in the healthcare field in Philadelphia, we will need to establish more partnerships with health care systems and create opportunities for sector industry professionals to mentor and support our participants. We welcome other ideas as our work in this sector continues to grow.
Collection of toiletries, PPE and winter care items: Many of the individuals and families we serve are facing severe hardships. We would love to be able to create packages with essential items to help these families with items to keep them healthy and safe.
Please signify the type of support you are requesting from Life Science Cares:
Independence Network: Helping Individuals Get Back to Work
Total Project Budget (if applicable):
Requested Amount [note that first year partners will generally be awarded $10k]:
In which Life Science Cares Area of Focus is the requested project’s work?
Description of Need (What is the issue you plan to address? What are the demographics and number of people you plan to serve, if applicable?):
For almost 80 years, JEVS Human Services has worked to help individuals throughout the Philadelphia region enhance their employability, independence, and quality of life through a broad range of programs and to create innovative and sustainable solutions to address current and future community needs. Through over 35 programs, JEVS serves more than 27,000 people each year, including unemployed and underemployed youth and adults, individuals with disabilities, refugees and asylees, returning citizens, senior citizens, and individuals seeking addiction recovery. Comprehensive programs take a holistic, person-centered approach that helps clients find and keep stable, family-sustaining employment.
JEVS has several programs to serve those with disabilities with the goal of supporting these individuals to lead lives of self-determination and dignity. To address the unique and unmet needs of Philadelphia area young adults with disabilities, a local group of parents approached JEVS Human Services in 2011 to create an inclusive community of young adults with disabilities. The parents selected JEVS due to our extensive experience and commitment to helping individuals with disabilities achieve the most self-sufficient lifestyle possible. Together, we established the Philadelphia Independence Network (PIN) in Narberth, PA. PIN, and now the Independence Network (IN) in Collingswood, NJ, tailor supportive services to the individualized needs of each participant, building their independence, self-esteem, and skills necessary to succeed living in their community and in their careers. PIN and IN achieve this through a partnership between participants, their families, and JEVS Human Services staff. Both PIN and IN are based on the principle that individuals strengthen communities by realizing their highest quality of life through the achievement of personal and vocational potential. Work gives individuals a sense of purpose and self-worth. It is a source of pride, self- confidence, social connection and financial security. PIN/IN provide young adults with disabilities the freedom to learn, experience, and achieve their life goals. These programs offer a variety of activities and opportunities for members to lead fulfilling and productive lives. Each member, along with family members, work with staff to set his/her own goals and identify interests and needs. The ongoing supports and resources provided by PIN/IN staff help individuals as they work through challenges of being independent, while improving life skills, social skills, recreation skills, and work skills. Most of all, members are encouraged to make choices that help them lead self-determined, connected, and hopeful lives that strengthen themselves, their families, and their communities.
Individuals with disabilities have faced significant challenges in the new landscape of COVID-19; as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), established to secure equality for employment opportunities for workers with disabilities, the unfortunate reality is that many of our participants with disabilities have lost their jobs as a result of COVID 19. The loss of employment due to the pandemic is having a great impact on the 52 current participants in PIN/IN. Prior to the Pandemic, 100% of PIN/IN members were either employed, attending school or certification programs, or were active volunteers. 89% of members were working full or part time. As a result of the pandemic, 70% of members lost or were furloughed from their jobs, 100% lost volunteer roles, and their educational pursuits were severely disrupted. While some individuals have returned to work as businesses slowly began reopening in the region, they now face significantly reduced hours and income, alongside growing concerns of additional shutdowns and layoffs in the coming months as COVID-19 cases continue to spike locally. Regardless of their current employment status, PIN/IN members can benefit from additional supports to help them navigate the evolving job market.
Specific Activities (Please detail what activities you intend to undertake as a result of the grant. Include information about service delivery and timelines.):
For PIN/IN participants who lost jobs as a result of COVID-19, staff must provide an array of supportive services to help individuals cope with this new reality. Staff are redesigning the delivery of these services and are creating innovative ways to maintain connections, reduce social isolation and increase members’ digital literacy skills. Those who encounter external challenges to securing employment, like the PIN/IN members, are going to need increased supports to help them get back to work. Making sure that the members have the technology and skill necessary to remain connected and competitive in the new job market has been a top priority. In addition to enhanced tools and training, individuals need added resiliency skills to help traverse the current environment, such as helping people navigate significant changes in workplace safety, changing work roles, and learning to navigate in online vs. in person work in preparation for the post-pandemic environment.
It is our goal to assist these individuals to maintain their independence, find new jobs, and develop technology skills to succeed in a reimagined workplace. With additional funding, we can add increased staffing support to include offering virtual “work skills” group sessions to foster a strong culture of employment; conduct individual employment meetings to establish and support individual re-entry strategies; provide guidance and support to program participants to identify and access available benefits; and offer individual career planning meetings for those who wanted to use this time to plan for and pursue career advancement opportunities. In addition, staff can implement technology assessments and teach members how to use the technology and provide strategies to promote user proficiency. Technology skills are vital for building and keeping connections with others, preparation for a new workplace environment, and creation of new strategies to support independence, particularly if we experience a second wave of a lockdown or need for quarantine.
Grant funding from Life Science Cares would allow for additional staff hours dedicated to providing employment supports and enhanced staff training to better prepare members for new skills and best practices for supported employment work in the competitive job market, as outlined below:
Additional staff at 19 hours per week (at $21 per hour) to provide enhanced employment supports for members to pursue new job opportunities or to receive training in new/changing CDC and state guidelines based on their industry (especially true in child care and food service): 19 x $21/hour = $399/week x 15 weeks = $5,985. These hours include a combination of the following:
A minimum of 15 hours per week to meet weekly with members in active search and interview preparation/assistance.
1 hour of facilitated group time to address/train on reentry strategies and troubleshoot concerns.
1 hour of staff time to prepare topics/info for these groups.
o 2 hours of individual support to members who are struggling to learn and integrate new protocols into day to day operations and dealing with workplace concerns, fears, and potential exposure to COVID in the workplace.
Due to the increased competition in the job market, program staff need additional training to learn how to customize, create, and carve out employment opportunities for people with disabilities. We would like to work with the Transition Pathways program of the Drexel University A.J. Drexel Autism Institute to provide virtual content training as well as mentoring to staff to learn how to incorporate these best practices into supported employment work. Cost is $4,000.
Evaluation (What are the anticipated results? What methods will you use to measure your progress? What does success look like?):
An award from Life Science Cares will provide additional supports, job counseling, and training for PIN/IN members who are facing overwhelming challenges due to the pandemic. It will allow JEVS to add critical staffing hours to deliver these supports. The investment in training will not only enhance our staff’s capabilities now but will develop their skills so that they can continue to deliver these innovative services in the future.
Anticipated results of enhanced staff training and employment supports include the following:
Increased staff capacity to identify new job opportunities for people with disabilities, which can be measured by the expanded number of job opportunities developed.
Development of new employment support strategies based on individual member needs and/or new COVID-19 workplace regulations, which can be measured by tracking retention of members in those jobs.
Career advancement of members, which can be measured by tracking if members increase their hours and/or pay within their current job, obtaining a second job, obtaining a job that more closely aligns with their individual interests, or another activity that advances members to the next step in their careers.
To determine successful outcomes, staff will continue tracking the total number of employed vs. unemployed participants in PIN/IN, along with those who have been called back to work but at reduced hours.
Perhaps more importantly, grant support will contribute to the PIN/IN members’ long-term economic sustainability as they gain new skills and strategies to obtain and retain employment. Members will learn important strategies to compete in the new workplace and key skills that will further their independence and financial security. Since the goal of this program is to support members in living independently, employment is a critical priority for continued financial stability.
Does this project already have support from life science companies? If so, what is the nature of that support? No.
EFFECTIVENESS, COLLABORATION, INNOVATION
Is there any other information not captured elsewhere regarding your organization, project, program or initiatives that you believe will help the Life Science Cares team in evaluating your request?
Each year, JEVS Human Services provides a variety of key services that help people achieve their goals, including skills training, job readiness and career services, vocational rehabilitation, recovery services, and adult residential and community participation supports. The majority of our clients are living at or near the federal poverty line (about 95%), and many are living with disabilities (about 25%), justice-system involvement (15%-20%), unemployment (40%-70%), and other challenges. JEVS serves as an important safety net for many who face external struggles in meeting basic needs such as housing, transportation, and food security. The already-vulnerable populations we serve are further challenged and isolated as the COVID-19 pandemic inflicts pain across the region.
As a human service agency, several of our programs are deemed “essential” and have remained open, as they care for some of the most vulnerable individuals in our community. Even in our programs that have not been operating as usual, JEVS staff have continued to engage daily with our participants, whether for counseling support, online teaching, maintaining delivery of benefits and services, or to maintain connections to prevent social isolation. In light of our city’s current economic outlook and the expectation that unemployment could continue to rise to unprecedented levels, we know that our services will be needed more than ever. It is vital that we maintain our programs and staff so that they can safely provide the supports our community will need in the weeks and months to come.
In addition to qualified staff, JEVS is grateful for and relies upon a network of volunteers who can enhance our programs and expand our community engagement. JEVS welcomes the opportunity for volunteers from Life Science Cares to join us in new and existing volunteer opportunities, including mock interviews, mentorship, networking, and collection drives, with the PIN/IN members as well as with participants from several of our other programs.
How does your organization or program differentiate from other organizations doing similar work? Are you executing or proposing to executive an innovation in program or service?
We are in a unique position of being a workforce development agency within a human service context; therefore, we emphasize holistic supports for individuals so they can lead self-determined, connected, and hopeful lives that strengthen their families and their communities. These wraparound services can help individuals with concrete needs such as mental health, food, healthcare, and family support so that they can focus on achieving the meaningful outcomes defined by them. For workforce programs particularly, JEVS is proud to have many employer relationships for job development and placements that match an individual’s
skills and interests, leading to high retention rates (i.e., not “just a job”) and a sustainable career path.