Giving Tuesday Means Big Things For Best Buddies Florida

The Able Trust Awards $250,000 Grant to Increase Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Orlando, Fla. – On Giving Tuesday the Able Trust went all in. The Able Trust recognized Best Buddies Florida (BBFL) as a recipient of a $250,000 Strategic Employment Placement Initiative Grant.

BBFL is being awarded the $250,000 for its Job Program Expansion Project, which is a three-year strategic effort with a main goal of increasing the number of job participants and employer hosts in four of seven areas currently served (Broward, Miami, Orlando, and Palm Beach areas) as well as the creation of a BBFL Jobs Program in the Tampa region. Additionally, the Project aims to increase employer participation across these areas with organizational events, including volunteer opportunities and annual local fundraising events. The goals of the program are to add more than 230 participants and more than 150 participating employers.

From left to Right – Doug Hilliard, Advent Health; David Quilleon, Best Buddies; Dr. Eric Hall, Florida Department of Education; Wayne Olson, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Orlando); Harold Torres, Holland & Knight and Job Program Participant; Heather Isaacs, Best Buddies, Elyse Mundelein, Job Program Participant; Tony Carvajal, the Able Trust; Rep. Anna Eskamani; Rob Strader,  Best buddies; Guenevere Crum, the Able Trust, Andi Allen, Best Buddies; and Cary Ombres, Best Buddies.

There are an estimated 2,673,685 Floridians with a disability, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census. That is 13.4 percent of all Floridians. In the 18 to 64 age range — the typical age group most likely to be in the workforce — Florida has 1,208,053 people who have one or more disabilities.* Currently, the federal unemployment rate for people without a disability is 3.2% compared to 6.9% for people with a disability. State data is not as up-to-date as the federal data, but the most recent for Florida is from 2017 and it showed the state’s unemployment rate for individuals without a disability was 6.6%, while it was 16.3% for individuals with disabilities.*

According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s research, A Study of Employment of Floridians with Disabilities, 2019, Florida will need to provide a trained workforce for an estimated 1.7 million net new jobs by 2030. Programs like Best Buddies’ Job Program will help train individuals with disabilities so they can gain meaningful employment and engage area business so that they can become aware of and access this large pool of talented individuals who are eager to work.

“It’s easy to take employment opportunities for granted, but for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, having a job is life-changing and that’s why we are incredibly grateful for the unwavering, continuous support and generosity of The Able Trust,” said Anthony K. Shriver, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Best Buddies International. “Two years ago, The Able Trust supported the launch of the Best Buddies Jobs Program in Orlando and today, I am even more excited for the long-term, monumental impact we will continue to make together as we work to empower this community of talented individuals throughout the state of Florida. As recipients of this $250,000 strategic grant, we will continue enriching the lives of people with special abilities through our Jobs Program and continue building diverse, inclusive workplaces of the future.”

“The Department of Education is proud to partner with the Able Trust to recognize Best Buddies Florida as the recipient of the Strategic Employment Placement Initiative Grant,” said Florida Department of Education Chancellor for Innovation Dr. Eric Hall. “Individuals with disabilities contribute greatly to our communities and are integral to our state’s workforce. I commend Best Buddies Florida for making a tremendous impact on employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and I’m excited to see the great impact they will make with this grant funding.”

“The Able Trust is excited to partner with Best Buddies Florida and to do it on Giving Tuesday makes it even more special,” said Tony Carvajal, President and CEO of the Able Trust. “This grant will enable Best Buddies Florida to expand its Job Program in four key areas, as well as establish a Job Program in the Tampa area. This expansion will provide additional services for individuals with disabilities, enabling them to find successful employment, and it will provide area businesses with quality employees. Supporting programs like BBFL’s Job Program is vital and is beneficial for the individuals who use the program, the companies that hire them, and Florida’s communities.”

The Job Program Expansion Project is part of Best Buddies International’s latest initiative, Delivering Jobs.  This national inclusion campaign is designed to create pathways to one million employment and leadership opportunities for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD) by 2025. This campaign is in partnership with Autism Speaks and Special Olympics through a unifying third-party organization, Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF).

The Able Trust partners with organizations like BBFL across Florida to provide grant opportunities for employee placement programs. Since 1990, the Able Trust has provided more than $43 million in grants to help support programs like BBFL’s Job Program.

About The Able Trust

The Able Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created in 1990. Its mission is to be a key leader in providing Floridians with disabilities opportunities for successful employment. The Able Trust supports numerous workforce development projects, including the High School High Tech program and career preparation programs for adults with disabilities. The Able Trust also provides assistance to businesses as they seek to employ people with disabilities. Since its beginnings, The Able Trust has worked with community organizations in every county in Florida to put thousands of people with disabilities to work. To learn more about the Able Trust, please visit and follow @AbleTrust.

About Best Buddies Florida

Best Buddies Florida offers One-to-One Friendship, Integrated Employment, and Leadership Development programs – positively impacting nearly 123,380 individuals with and without disabilities in Florida. To learn more about Best Buddies Florida, please visit