Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation Grants $2 Million for Tech & Empowering Youth with Disabilities

Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF) announced today $2 million in new grants, and $615K in continuing projects. The funding supports MEAF’s new Access to Careers in Technology and the Trades Inclusion Initiative, which is designed to empower youth with disabilities to lead productive lives through increased employment.

“Our Access to Careers in Technology and the Trades Inclusion Initiative builds off the success we have seen this past year in collaborating with our grant recipients and industry associations in replicating model disability employment programs to create a pipeline of skilled talent to access careers in high demand fields,” says Kevin R. Webb, MEAF’s senior director.

Careers in Technology

In collaboration with the Consumer Technology Association Foundation, MEAF is helping to promote accessibility and tech careers at CES® and throughout the year, supporting projects like:

  • FIRST® Access: To introduce inclusive programming for all students into FIRST competitions.
  • Exceptional Minds Growth Initiative: To prepare artists on the autism spectrum at Exceptional Minds for career pathways towards entertainment and related industry jobs across digital arts, animation, visual effects, gaming, and other fields.
  • Aspiritech Remote Employment Academy: To provide training and internships leading to careers in Accessibility, IT and Quality Assurance testing for neurodiverse individuals at Aspiritech.
  • NSITE IT Program Expansion: To help blind and visually impaired individuals access training at NSITE and go on to careers in Information Technology.

Careers in the Trades

In support of the Association for Career and Technical Education and its Inclusion, Access, Equity and Diversity Initiative, MEAF is helping to build a pipeline of Career Tech Talent in fields like:

  • Advanced Manufacturing: Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigsthe foundation of the Fabricators and Manufacturer’s Association, offers Inclusive Summer Camps to introduce students to careers in manufacturing. FedCap’s Teaching the Autism Community Trades (TACT) trains and places students as heat pump installers, electricians, welders, carpenters, and mechanics. The Uniquely Abled Project is establishing Uniquely Abled Academies at trade schools and community colleges to train and place autistic students in jobs as Computer Numerical Control (CNC) and Robotics Operators. CAST is introducing students with disabilities to careers in biomanufacturing.
  • Electronics and Plastics Recycling and Beyond: Blue Star Recyclers is sharing its successful disability employment model by creating Counties of Inclusion, bringing together schools, service providers, employers, and chambers of commerce in counties to create a pipeline of capable talent.
  • Hospitality, Healthcare, Microenterprise and More: Butler Tech’s Project LIFETM program and Celebrate EDU’s microenterprise training introduces students with intellectual and development disabilities to career opportunities in a variety of fields. Cincinnati Children’s Project SEARCH internship program provides total workplace immersion and job-skills acquisition leading to competitive employment. MEAF’s support will help more than 36,000 Project SEARCH alumni advance in their careers.

Access to Opportunity

Access to careers in technology and the trades starts from a strong foundation of quality experiential education and awareness. MEAF helps build access and awareness by supporting:

  • Documentary Films: The Emmy® winning “My Disability Roadmap” and new feature-length film “The Ride Ahead” by Dan and Samuel Habib, as well as the film “All You Hear is Noise”, helps promote inclusion and the understanding of the capabilities of people with disabilities.
  • Disability Mentoring: Partners for Youth with Disabilities National Disability Mentoring Coalition and innovative mentoring programs like Disability EmpowHer Network helps advance disability mentoring in national MENTOR programs.
  • Quality Education: The DePaul School for Hearing and Speech is introducing a career development curriculum, the World Institute on Disability offers The Global Heumann Fellowship, and Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support at St. Jospeh’s University shares knowledge with other colleges.
  • Experiential Work: Vocational training at Spero Vineyards and Growing Together Aquaponics, peer empowerment models at Vanderbilt University and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and Bridges from School to Work help youth with disabilities take the next steps.
  • Inclusive Grantmaking: MEAF works with its peers in philanthropy, such as PEAK Grantmaking and Workforce Matters to encourage grant makers to include support for people with disabilities in their grant programs.

“This is the first year MEAF’s annual grant making has exceeded $2 million. We are excited to see the growth of disability employment to support a more inclusive society,” concludes Webb.

MEAF’s $2.6 million in grant commitments to 24 organizations will be distributed over the next two years. MEAF will also match up to $320,000 in donations made by employees in 2024 to help build inclusive and sustainable communities in the United States.