Advancing Access, Equity, and Partnerships

 In Advocacy, Blog, College to Career, Developmental Disabilities, Special Needs, Special Needs Services, Workforce Development

Every October, Tierra celebrates National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which pays tribute to the accomplishments of people with disabilities whose work helps keep the nation’s economy strong by reaffirming their commitment to ensuring equal opportunity for all citizens.

This year’s NDEAM theme focused on “advancing access and equity,” which recognized the importance of ensuring all people have equal opportunities to contribute their unique skills and talents. While many employers have recognized that an inclusive disability workforce is a strong workforce, there is still a 75% unemployment rate for people with disabilities. Tierra is working hard to change that number, but we aren’t doing it alone.

On October 19th, Tierra celebrated the incredible business partners who believe in our mission and make employment opportunities possible for the people we serve.

“In my heart, I knew, if I ever had my own business, which I do now, I wanted to have an internship program. It has been such a pleasure working with the interns from Tierra – just good young adults. The way I see it, we provide a training ground where they can learn. I try to be consistent, but I am tough, and I have high expectations. Honestly, what I love seeing is the confidence develop in each individual in this program. This is a wonderful partnership.”  Christopher Herrera Chatsworth Grocery Outlet Owner and Tierra del Sol PIP and Employment Partner

“We do work with other programs, but Tierra is, by far, the best! You guys are the standard – from A – Z. We are able to hire and confidently bring on these students because of the work that you guys do. You figured it out in 2014 and you stuck to it. We appreciate you.”  Monique Mascari Canoga Park Grocery Outlet Owner and Tierra del Sol PIP and Employment Partner

“It’s been such an honor to be able to work with Tierra for as long as we have. I’ve been working with Kurt, Karen, and Becky, since 2018, so to see them grow from volunteers into paid staff has been fantastic. What has been most impactful are the families and children that get to come into our museum and see themselves represented in our staff. It’s one thing to be a staff member there, but to be a staff member as well as a representative for children and families is another.”  Vincent Dominguez Kidspace Museum Floor Operations Manager and Tierra del Sol Volunteer and Employment Partner

“I want to touch on a comment that was made earlier about the ‘unknown’ and the ‘bias’ that is out there. When we first started this partnership in 2018, in talking with Department Directors in Supply Chain, which is my department, EVS, and Food Service, there was a lot of uncertainty because we just didn’t know. But after many discussions, we felt we could embrace this work. I can’t say enough about this program and the good things that come out of it. Kaiser is proud to be here.”  Domingo Mendias Kaiser Permanente Director of Supply Chain, Project Search Internship Partner, Tierra del Sol Employment Partner


“FOBA – fear of being awkward. It just takes one interaction to get over FOBA. And that’s what you guys are doing by introducing Tierra associates to your community and companies. Thank you for what you are doing and for being here today.”  Karren McClenahan Tierra del Sol Board Member and Parent

Congratulations to our 2023 Awardees:

Trailblazer Award

(for pioneering accomplishments in exemplary internship opportunities)

Grocery Outlet


Grocery Outlet

Canoga Park

Grocery Outlet

Sun Valley


(G’mos at CSUN)

Pacesetter Award

for establishing and implementing

an exemplary volunteer to

employment program

Kidspace Children’s


Kaiser Permanente

Woodland Hills

Star Thrower Award

for outstanding work as an

exemplary volunteer

Karren McClenahan

World Changer Award

for innovation and leadership

in employment diversity and


Los Angeles

Valley College

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