The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) is a free resource of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (DOL/ODEP) that offers tools and information to help employers recruit, hire, retain and advance qualified people with disabilities. Through its website, AskEARN.org, EARN provides publications, resources and online training to educate public- and private-sector employers on ways to create disability-inclusive workplaces and become leaders in the employment of people with disabilities. From 2014-2019, Concepts assisted The Viscardi Center in managing EARN by serving as its communications arm as it works to operationalize ODEP’s employer policy agenda and build and maintain relationships with corporate America. Starting in 2020, Concepts began working on EARN with Cornell University’s Yang Tan Institute.
Concepts leads all of EARN’s communications and outreach efforts as well as supports many other aspects of this multi-faceted project. Concepts creates EARN’s social media and newsletter content; provides information architecture, design and content management support for AskEARN.org, including its complete redesign and reorganization in 2016; and conducts linking campaigns to increase website traffic. In addition, Concepts has helped develop and promote policy-related materials, such as the Inclusion@Work employer policy framework, and assists with planning EARN’s bi-monthly webinar series, including securing speakers, developing agendas, drafting promotional content and managing logistics.
To engage private employers, Concepts helps EARN identify and partner with business membership organizations and trade associations at the state and national level through its “Inclusion@Work Network.” Through these partnerships, EARN provides education and assistance to help these organizations become sources of guidance on disability employment for their members. This assistance is provided in a variety of ways, including customized webinars, in-person events and specialized materials. Partners in the Inclusion@Work Network include the International Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA), the Entrepreneurs’ Organization of Washington DC (EO-DC) and the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, among others.
As part of EARN’s efforts focused on federal employment of people with disabilities, Concepts helps manage the Equal Opportunity (EO) Workgroup, a partnership between DOL/ODEP, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Concepts’ role in the EO Workgroup is to assist with the planning and facilitation of bi-monthly meetings; develop policy analysis and implementation tools to bolster federal agency efforts to recruit, hire, retain and advance individuals with disabilities; and conduct policy-related activities that support priority areas established by the members.
Concepts also helped launch and provides ongoing support to the Federal Exchange on Employment and Disability (FEED), a community of practice focused on making the Federal Government a model employer of people with disabilities. Concepts’ tasks include maintaining the FEED membership database and organizing quarterly meetings, including handling logistics, developing agendas, securing speakers and managing attendee lists. In addition, Concepts coordinated with OPM to create an online FEED Community of Practice on the MAX.gov portal, where FEED members can exchange ideas and best practices, share resources and ask questions.