SourceAmerica: A blueprint for how we achieve our mission
Imagine the entire city of Minneapolis, Minnesota being out of work; that’s the size equivalent of the nation’s disability employment crisis. More than 430,000 people with disabilities in the U.S. of working age 16-64 want to work, yet aren’t given the opportunity. To counter old mindsets and negative attitudes about disability, a federal program that SourceAmerica facilitates—the AbilityOne® Program —is helping to change that by proving ability first.
Making a difference in communities across the U.S.
The AbilityOne Program uses the purchasing power of the Federal Government to provide products and services from participating nonprofit agencies (NPAs) that employ and train people with disabilities.
As an AbilityOne designated Central Nonprofit Agency (CNA), SourceAmerica serves as the link between AbilityOne-participating NPAs and federal customers, ensuring the government gets much-needed products and services and that jobs are available to people with disabilities. In turn, people with disabilities across the U.S. reap the benefits of steady employment, financial independence and actively contributing to their local communities.
AbilityOne is now among the nation's largest providers of jobs for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. There are nearly 85,000 people with disabilities employed by more than 700 NPAs that participate in the SourceAmerica/AbilityOne network.
A brief history of an important mission
Federal efforts to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities began in 1938 with the passing of the Wagner-O'Day Act. The Act sought to advance job growth at a time when World War II loomed and the U.S. dealt with a recession. The Act was designed to help NPAs that served those who were blind produce and sell items to the Federal Government. The Act was amended in 1971 to the Javits-Wagner-O'Day (JWOD) Act, to include people with other significant disabilities.
The Act also requires that the U.S. AbilityOne Commission (the Commission) designate CNAs to help administer the program. As a CNA, SourceAmerica is responsible for facilitating the development of employment opportunities for NPAs through the AbilityOne Program. We also offer a range of business support services to the NPA community, including contract management, engineering, technical assistance, workforce development, professional and advocacy training, and financial assistance.
Upholding program integrity
To ensure the CNAs meet performance objectives and adhere to strict regulatory, oversight and monitoring requirements, the Commission maintains formal written agreements which came out of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016. SourceAmerica’s Cooperative Agreement with the Commission serves as the “blueprint” for how we achieve our mission. It’s a contractual agreement that outlines our responsibilities as a CNA and also serves as a Performance Work Statement.
SourceAmerica measures and reports its progress regularly to the Commission against a series of deliverables and key performance indicators which include employment growth; program administration, oversight and integrity; NPA support, assistance and development; and strategic communications.
In essence, the Cooperative Agreement helps to bolster how we achieve our mission.
“This agreement documents a strategic path for SourceAmerica as a CNA,” said Cathy Cooke, vice president, AbilityOne Programs. “It helps us meet regulatory obligations, builds a stronger public case for accountability, improves transparency and drives better outcomes for the people with disabilities.”