Office products and technology supplier OfficeMax, based in Naperville, joins five other organizations in launching Aspire CareerLink, a work training facility in Hillside for people with disabilities. The other include Kessler Foundation, Aspire of Illinois, the Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services.
The partnership, created with the help of a 2-year grant from Kessler Foundation, will utilize a real-world work environment and specialized curriculum to train people with disabilities for meaningful careers within OfficeMax's distribution and retail centers.
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"We are creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture that can attract qualified associates of all abilities and backgrounds to create innovative business solutions," said Carolynn Brooks, OfficeMax vice president, chief diversity officer. "We found that hiring people with disabilities has allowed us to tap into a talented pool of workers that bring unique experiences and understanding that provide OfficeMax with a distinct competitive advantage."
OfficeMax's support for the Aspire CareerLink work training facility is part of OfficeMax's ongoing commitment to working with veterans and people with disabilities. As part the company's Maxing Out Diversity project, under the Kessler Foundation grant OfficeMax is working with the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation and local organizations to create career-training facilities in other markets nationwide, including Las Vegas, Dallas and Columbus, Ohio. Earlier this year, OfficeMax was awarded the National Employment Team 2013 "Private Sector Business of the Year" by the CSAVR for its commitment to employing veterans and people with disabilities, including OfficeMax's PowerMax distribution center in McCalla, Ala., which has employed more than 35 people with disabilities. Additionally, OfficeMax has partnered with the Turning Pointe Autism Foundation to develop a work training facility for young adults with autism.
OfficeMax also sells Aspire CoffeeWorks artisan coffee to business customers through its OfficeMax Workplace contract division, and to employees at its headquarters cafe. All of the net proceeds from the sale of Aspire CoffeeWorks coffee benefit Aspire's life-changing programs for people with disabilities.
"We're proud to receive this grant and to help support the Aspire CareerLink work training facility, which advances our continuous efforts toward creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture," said Larry Hartley, OfficeMax senior vice president, supply chain.