SourceAmerica Celebrates 40 Years of Creating Employment Opportunities for People with Significant Disabilities

By SourceAmerica 06/26/2014

VIENNA, VA (June 26, 2014) – SourceAmerica®, a national nonprofit and leading source of employment opportunities for nearly 125,000 people with significant disabilities, today celebrates its 40th anniversary.

The nonprofit organization now known as SourceAmerica originated in 1974 as National Industries for the Severely Handicapped (NISH). Initially, the organization's mission was to provide technical assistance to nonprofit agencies participating in the AbilityOne Program (formerly Javits-Wagner-O'Day Program), created from a federal law passed in 1971 that requires all federal agencies to purchase specified supplies and services from nonprofit agencies employing persons who are blind or have significant disabilities. SourceAmerica's mission has grown to include business development, contract management, training, advocacy and education for the SourceAmerica network of nonprofit agencies and the individuals with disabilities that they serve.

In the early years, most federal contract opportunities came in three areas of service: custodial, grounds maintenance, and food services. In the most recent decades SourceAmerica launched new lines of business that strategically match people with significant disabilities with additional types of employment opportunities such as Secure Document Destruction, Total Facilities Management, and Contact Center Services.

Recently SourceAmerica invested in research and development that will break down barriers to employment for individuals with disabilities as well as enabling these individuals to advocate on Capitol Hill. In 2012, Pathways to Careers was established to further broaden opportunity and choice for people with disabilities. The program offers individual counselling which leads to paid internships to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities so they can transition to competitive, integrated employment based on informed choice.

The organization is now exploring job growth opportunities outside of the federal sector. Work has begun on the development of an electronic recycling line of business to provide services to consumers, business and government across the country. And, SourceAmerica has established strategic alliances with multiple franchise operators such as The UPS Store, Papa Murphy's Pizza and Subway.

According to CEO Bob Chamberlin, "SourceAmerica continues to push the envelope to discover any avenue that presents an opportunity for people with significant disabilities to obtain the dignity that comes with employment. Our vision is employment for every person with a significant disability – and that includes providing the choice and upward mobility that also accompanies employment."

After 40 years, SourceAmerica's nationwide network has grown to include more than 1,000 community nonprofit agency partners fulfilling contracting needs for the federal government, commercial businesses and government contractors. More than 125,000 people with significant disabilities are employed through SourceAmerica's network of nonprofit agencies.

About SourceAmerica
Established in 1974, SourceAmerica creates job opportunities for a skilled and dedicated workforce: people with significant disabilities. SourceAmerica is the vital link between the federal government and private sector organizations that procure the products and services provided by this exceptional workforce via a network of more than 1,000 community-based nonprofits. Headquartered in Vienna, VA, SourceAmerica provides its nonprofit agency network with business development, contract management, legislative and regulatory assistance, communications and public relations materials, information technology support, engineering and technical assistance, and extensive professional training needed for successful nonprofit management. SourceAmerica is an AbilityOne authorized enterprise.