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2021 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Jewish Federation Of Greater Orlando Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: As a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, the RAISE mission is to build confidence, promote independence, and teach employability skills to adults with special needs and provide guidance and support to their families.

Results: Transitioning to a virtual program in March 2020 for safety precautions, RAISE has assisted adults with disabilities and their families learn valuable work and social skills that will help prepare them for integrative employment. Volunteer Job Coaches have been successfully matched one on one to support each participant and meet the program’s goals. RAISE has continued to offer a well attended online parent’s support group led by professionals in the field. The program model builds confidence and promotes independence while focusing on an individual's strengths. RAISE also educates family members on a weekly basis sharing best practices that will assist them in their effort to support their participants search for employment.

Target demographics: Adults with disabilities gain work experience and learn social skills needed for employment

Direct beneficiaries per year: In the past year, RAISE directly impacted over 50 people including RAISE participants, their families, job coaches, staff, and community volunteers.

Geographic areas served: The Central Florida community

Programs: RAISE (Recognizing Abilities and Inclusion of Special Employees) is a work and social skills training program that prepares adults with disabilities for competitive employment. By providing a 6-12 month part-time, paid work experience through partnering agencies of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, RAISE offers each participant the self-worth that comes from earning a paycheck, the satisfaction of being a participating member of society, an accepting work environment, the self-respect that comes with productivity, the dignity of having a job, a feeling of contribution, and the social benefit of interfacing with our community in a safe and compassionate setting. During this time, job skills are modeled, shaped and refined. RAISE builds self-esteem, fosters independence at home and in the workplace, educates and inspires participants and their families to set new goals, supports and encourages social growth, and creates awareness of services and opportunities available in the community. RAISE works alongside Vocational Rehabilitation in order to find jobs for their participants.

Community Stories

44 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

The RAISE Road doesn’t lead to the Wizard of Oz but to the RAISE Wizards and Leadership Team of professionals, which includes local agencies and staff, trained volunteer coaches and specialists who present talks on different subjects, from developing communication skills to preparing for job interviews. Its program is designed to expand the horizon for young adults with special needs, most of whom are unemployed and living at home. Each step of the RAISE program links to the next with no cracks or gaping spaces. Unique in its approach, RAISE is built on a strong foundation-- knowledge of our community, attention to detail, professional experience, and understanding of and compassion for the participants. In 2017, my son, who had faced significant health challenges and had moved back home, was reluctant at first to participate in the RAISE program. However, he signed on at our urging and agreed to attend every weekly meeting. Each step he took on the RAISE path increased his confidence and courage to take THE BIG STEP to find a job in the outside world. Not long after he graduated from RAISE, he secured a position at UCF, working in the rare books division of the university library. RAISE had helped him rewrite his life's script.

Kate Jennings O.

Client Served

Rating: 5

RAISE, for my family, is more than a group of caring, competent adults with a vision for building a more equitable and accessible pathway for young adults with disabilities to find their niche in their environment. RAISE touched our life personally. Their genuine willingness to see each person within their individual matrix made the guidance received personal, relevant and most of all their approach enhances the young adult's ability to trust.

I am the grandmother of a young adult who joined the RAISE family in 2015. I still have conversations in my head when I ponder how I might respond to what is currently happening with my granddaughter, "What would Rachael advise or how would Carol see this?" Their shared wisdom has also made me grow!!

Kenneth S.2

Advisor

Rating: 5

As the Program Advisor to RAISE I have had the distinct pleasure since its inception of being involved in a unique program addressing a significant void in Orlando’s community. For my entire professional career (35+ years) I had been researching, designing, and implementing job training programs at the middle school, high school, post-secondary levels and for adults with special needs. The purpose of these programs was to develop the necessary work skills essential to promoting successful employment. There are many keys to being successful in a job…and it goes far beyond learning the skills required to perform the tasks assigned. This is one area where RAISE separates itself from other programs. The RAISE Leadership Team has developed a curriculum in collaboration with Social Bridges that includes a weekly social skills class with the employees, where the job coaches reinforce on the job site the skills taught. The #1 reason any employee loses their job is they lack sufficient social skills in the areas of communication, empathy and rapport, interpersonal relationships with others on the job, problem solving and accountability. The social skills curriculum is one of the many components to RAISE which have resulted in an extraordinarily successful program.

RAISE has my unqualified recommendation for its design, implementation, and the flexibility it has demonstrated since its inception to continually reflect and model what I know are best practices in a job training program.

What I am most grateful for are the relationships I have experienced and seen develop amongst everyone associated with the RAISE family. There are many opportunities I have had in my career, but none have been more satisfying on so many levels.

Ken Schneider
former Director of Exceptional Education and Student Services with Orange County Public Schools

Client Served

Rating: 5

We first learned about the RAISE program through UCF CARD, and are so thankful for this opportunity for our son, Nicolas. This amazing non-profit is the precious fruit of years of tireless commitment to this growing population of awesome people who need this type of service! Everyone that I and my son have encountered are friendly, encouraging, and resourceful. The RAISE program that he has been in since August 2020, during the pandemic, from what I understand, is different from what the program usually entails, for obvious reasons. But, for this organization to be committed to still offer the high-quality programming they do, during a time such as this, is amazing and impressive in itself. The program is well organized, structured, and according to my son, has taught him “important life and job skills in a supportive and friendly environment.” There are many wonderful people in this program, from the individuals that conduct the ZOOM training, as well as the Coach he meets with once a week, via Facetime. We can see how much Nicolas has grown in this short period, as his self-esteem and confidence is greater, as well as his communication skills, overall.

For me, this program has been a great partnership and I have welcomed the support I personally have received as a Family Liaison. Every week, we receive from Rachel Slavin, RAISE Director of Employment Services & Education, a very detailed update on what was covered in the weekly Zoom session so that we, too can continue working on these skills at home. I have also been able to attend the support group, RAISE YOUR VOICE, which is led by Carol Miller, LCSW and Co-founder of Social Bridges, which is always very informative, and comforting to have emotional support as well.

I highly recommend the RAISE program to those individuals with a disability and their families, and it is my hope they bless your family as much as they have blessed ours.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can not say enough about every single person involved in this program, my son Joseph is a changed person. I will always do what I can to help them, recently I lost my husband, and Joseph lost his Dad, because of this program I feel that Joseph will be able to go into the work place and be successful.

Coral Martinez

Abby N.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I hired a RAISE graduate back in 2017, and she has been an absolute joy to our real estate team. She is friendly, professional, organized and punctual. All skills she acquired with the RAISE program. Kenya's joy is infectious, and will put a smile on anyone's face. We look forward to working with her for many years to come. Keep up the outstanding work you do RAISE!!!

Donor

Rating: 5


Such amazing work Loren and Rachel. I am so proud of what you and your team have accomplished over the years. It has been nothing short of extraordinary to watch your growth and to see firsthand the lives you have changed. I am sure the list is endless with the many families you have guided and nurtured, both students and volunteers. RAISE is a gift to all of those people as well as our entire community. Thank you for your continued passion and commitment.

Sharon White
3-10-21

Lisa Allison P.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Raise program was so beneficial for my son with disabilities. He learned so many skills and most importantly he gained confidence that he could work at a job and have a purpose. My son Nicholas achieved the necessary skills to be able to get a job and he is currently working independently at a retirement community for almost 2 years. He learned coping strategies that have helped him in all areas of his life. He also enjoyed developing friendships and being connected to a community that supported him. We are so thankful for Raise program and how it has blessed our lives.

Kim Albert M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

What an amazing program! The materials presented and practiced in RAISE each week not only will be extremely helpful to our son's employment success, but to his life success as well. Every Monday, as we listen to the instructors interact with our son and the other students, our hearts are truly warmed by their compassion and patience, and so very impressed with their professionalism and technique, and the proficiency with which the classes are taught. We are so grateful our son has been able to take part in RAISE.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son was part of the RAISE program in 2019 and it helped him so much. This wonderful program gave him a chance to get his first job. They build up the employees self esteem, teach them how to behave at their job site and to learn work ethics; they give them an opportunity to become more independent and a productive member of society. The whole staff was very loving, caring and patient with my son. Overall it was an amazing opportunity that helped him mature and I am forever thankful. I would recommend it to anyone that has a special needs person in their life. Vera Mendonca

Client Served

Rating: 5

I love it and great to a lot to do they get you a job and after that you go to events

Client Served

Rating: 5

We found out late Bradley was in the spectrum. We found RAISE and through this program he was able to socially cope and ultimately get a job at Publix. We are grateful beyond words!

Donor

Rating: 5

Inspired Generations is very proud to be a corporate sponsor of RAISE for the past seven years. We've watched RAISE's devoted team create thoughtful & successful programming that provides life-changing opportunities for so many deserving young adults with disabilities within the community. The success of the program is measured in many ways; but we see lots of smiles and happy hearts and know that RAISE is just the kind of programming we love to support.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been blown away by the impact that RAISE has on its community of participants. It is incredible to watch this organization give people skills that empower them to lead more independent lives. The organization teaches us to recognize the distinct value that each individual brings to those around them.

Donor

Rating: 5

As a donor, we are so happy to support RAISE each year since we continue to see the impact it has had on our entire community. Before the pandemic closed the doors of the Dick and Dottie's Place, a cafe in the lobby of the Jewish Community Center in Maitland, we were particularly touched to see RAISE employees working in the cafe and helping customers. RAISE is the first program for adults with special needs in our Jewish community that pays their participants to work at partnering agencies! The fact that RAISE continues to prepare adults with special needs for competitive employment makes it even more valuable now as we make our way to the other side of this pandemic.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It was a great experience, learned a lot of job etiquette and had wonderful job coaches/liaisons. The lunch and learns were also great. It was nice to see the other employees and hear from guest speakers. Overall, wonderful experience!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son participated in the RAISE program that helped to improve his Social Skills . It gave him more confidence and helped his self advocacy.
The program works closely with families as well. It is a wonderful program.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a Job Coach with the RAISE program I have been privileged to work with and learn from
the leaders and professionals of the RAISE Team. I have learned from my students and their families, and from the staff at the agencies we are affiliated with.
What have I learned and experienced? A greater respect for everyone’s amazing potential, the value of patience, and the value of persistence.
I have been awed by the growth of my employees. They are like buds that blossom. I have shared in the amazement of their families as they watch their growth. And I have felt satisfied that by participating in RAISE I have been part of a worthwhile and meaningful effort.

Toni S.3

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son is 22 yrs old and graduated from high school in May 2020. He began attending the "virtual" RAISE Your Skills program during the Covid quarantine shutdown. I have been so impressed by the leadership and guidance of the staff as they teach important social skills for future work environments, the creativity and positive learning style is to be commended. My son looks forward to attending weekly and is gaining confidence practicing the new skills into his daily interactions with family and friends. The RAISE program provides a valuable service to individuals, the community, and their families by preparing these young adults for future work environments.

CTMSocialBridges

Advisor

Rating: 5

Years ago, I met and explored the concept of RAISE with Loren London, founder and Director of RAISE, when it was an evolving concept for supporting adults with special needs in the workplace. As the Director of Social Bridges, over the years, it has been my privilege to be involved with RAISE as a Community Partner and to serve on the Leadership Team. Watching RAISE grow under the guidance of experienced professionals and amazing volunteers continues to be an incredibly fulfilling experience. I especially appreciate the program's ability to recognize the needs of our participants and their families and create new ways of supporting the program - wide "RAISE family." For example, when we recognized that additional connection and support between the family liaisons (parents or family members of RAISE or RAISE Your Skills participants) could be helpful, we created RAISE Your Voice. When the pandemic hit, we pivoted to offer virtual services. I am proud of the wonderful ways RAISE continues to stretch and grow to support our participants, employees and their families within our community.

1 Sofia D.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program is amazing and human too.. My son Marc Davenport feels happy and safe..

He is more open to other people in the real life( talking more)...

Thank you again for the extraordinary job with my lovely son.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Raise has helped guide my son, it’s a real life practice! They learn how to advocate for themselves and to know how to do an interview! The team is awesome and the communication is great! Thank you Raise for your guidance and support!

Melissa Y.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

RAISE is an amazing organization in which to partner. They do a wonderful job of preparing their employees and ensure they set everyone up for success. It was a huge added value to our preschool. We love our RAISE employees!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

About 5 months ago due to the covid virus, RAISE came up with a new format to continue to mentor our special needs employees. Instead of meeting in person once a week for 3 hrs., we now meet via facetime for 15 to 30 minutes.
After a few meetings with Steven (fictious name) I was assigned to work with, I didn't think he was grasping the communication skills we were trying to teach. Not meeting in person was making it more difficult for him. And to make matters worse, the lesson was not an easy one to get. In order to get a job he was going to have to learn this. I was starting to think he couldn't do it. The RAISE Director of Employment and Education encouraged me to keep trying and Steven was really trying hard. So I continued. It took weeks before he started to understand. He just needed a lot more time and a lot more repetition to understand the concepts. He does not always get the answers right and guesses a lot but basically he is doing well. He now grasps most of the information. I do believe he will be able to learn the rest. His mother has been in the background and I do believe she has helped him too. Parents are very important to this program.

I learned a lesson myself. Never give up.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Team at RAISE is fantastic! We are so grateful to have participated in this program. My daughter, Isabelle, learned so much during her time at RAISE: responsibility, social skills, professional skills, and self-advocacy. Everyone, both at RAISE and the JCC, was kind, patient, and a valuable source of information and feedback. The wonderful thing about this program is that everyone is involved as a unit. During the pandemic, RAISE found ways to keep everyone engaged and developed new ways to advance skills. In addition, they recognized that the pandemic would increase anxiety among our kids so new sessions were introduced to help our kids cope with and address those issues. RAISE reached out to those of us who had already gone through the program. Without a doubt, the RAISE program is an invaluable program for the whole community. I can't thank them enough for all that they did and continue doing for my daughter.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The RAISE program helped me find a job that I really loved. (Because of COVID, I have since left this job.). The program taught me skills that I learned when I worked there. The teachers and job coaches are really friendly and helpful. I have made a lot of new friends, learned so much and I would recommend this program to anyone who wants to find their dream job.
Caitlin C.

Sami R.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I began college as a freshman at the University of Central Florida, a friend of mine told me about RAISE's mission and I was instantly intrigued. Now, as a senior - almost 4 years later, I could not feel more grateful for my experience with RAISE as an intern during my time in college. I have worked with three different, and amazing, groups of participants and can say that I have first-hand seen the wonderful and tangible benefits that each participant can gain from being a part of the RAISE program. From social skills, to self-advocacy, to interview practice, RAISE gives its participants the education and opportunity to grow week after week. The environment of RAISE is welcoming and supportive, for both the RAISE participants as well as their support systems. RAISE is a family, and once you are a part of it, you are a part of it forever.

Client Served

Rating: 5

RAISE is a phenomenal organization. With a firm foundation built on kindness and expertise, young adults with disabilities are able not only able to access meaningful employment opportunities, but to have on-site coaching and off-site education to facilitate successful outcomes. My daughter, who is on the autism spectrum, had an amazing experience with RAISE and absolutely loved it. Add to that the resources and expertise provided to parents/caregivers to help them navigate through the often complicated world of supporting/raising a young adult with disabilities and we have nothing but praise and gratitude for this wonderful organization.

Lori Harris B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is my second year as a RAISE job coach and I truly wish I had volunteered years earlier. The amount of satisfaction I receive from knowing I am assisting a wonderful well deserving individual find confidence and independence is incredible. The RAISE program prepares their employees not just for employment but helps with all aspects of daily life by improving social, organizational and self-assertion skills.

Lastly, once you are a RAISE participant and/or coach, you become part of their family and are always welcome back at various events. I am very lucky to be a part of the RAISE family.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began my association with the RAISE Program as a Job Coach. Now, as a member of the Leadership Team, I am proud to play a role in helping the RAISE Employees grow in self confidence and become more independent. It has been so rewarding to see the RAISE Employees become more self-sufficient, self-assertive and successful in entering the work force.
Bill Yahner, M.Ed.
Special Education Instructor, Retired

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It has been my pleasure to work with a young adult and to help him become more prepared to enter the workforce. Raise is providing an invaluable service for special needs adults by giving them the tools they need to succeed in a competitive world.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter, Kenya Matthews is a graduate of the RAISE Program. She was born mentally challenged and she is currently 46 years old. She is a High School graduate and has one year of college. Kenya is an only child and I am a single parent, being independent is important to us. Kenya worked as a Teacher's Assistant for eleven years until she was laid off. She was unemployed for six years until we found out about the RAISE Program where she improved her work and social skills. Kenya is currently employed as an Office Assistant and we are grateful to the RAISE Program for the opportunity.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter, was part of the RAISE program 2016-2017. Being on the Autism Spectrum made social and school life very challenging for her. It was difficult to consider work opportunities for her, knowing her struggles.

RAISE made a huge difference for her! Volunteers helped to train and guide her in work skills and appropriate work behavior. She also benefited from social skills training. Today she is employed as a preschool assistant teacher. She is very patient with her children and is an asset for the preschool. The RAISE program allowed my daughter to develop the skills she needed to be able to work and grow in her abilities. We are truly grateful for this program!

Advisor

Rating: 5

As a supervisor to RAISE employees for over two years. I can say that watching these employees progress and add community to our organization benefits us a great deal. The level of support from RAISE, as well as the great work-ethic from employees is simply amazing. This program is important for the Orlando community and the interaction gained really brought light into our community center. I highly recommend RAISE to community partners.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

For the past seven years I have volunteered as a job coach with RAISE. This has been an extension of my professional life as an educator. Through the years I have guided our participants in a variety of jobs: stocking the food pantry, sanitizing exercise equipment, working in a library, serving and cleaning up in a dining room, assisting in a school art room, and doing housekeeping in an apartment building. In each case, my personal gratification has come as our participants gain confidence and recognize their strengths.

I've been part of RAISE since its inception and realize the important role the organization is playing in the lives of a "forgotten" group. Three times a week our participants have someplace to go and something to do. They have to interact with others. They are learning job skills and also social skills. They have to follow directions and fill out time sheets. Ultimately they become productive members in the community and find more fulfillment in their own lives.

Client Served

Rating: 5

As an employee of the RAISE Program, I feel honored. It was a wonderful experience. It give me building blocks for self-esteem, self advocacy, and self-determination. I learned social expectations in a workplace, the importance of following directions at a workplace, phone etiquette, and peer-relationships. Through their help and encouragement and all that I have learned in the RAISE program, I was able to obtain employment. It is a blessing that I have been in the RAISE Program and continue to be in the RAISE family.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The RAISE program has been a wonderful experience for my daughter Regina. She attended the RAISE program in 2017. Regina gained skills for successful peer relations, team building, self-advocacy and skills in writing resumes and interviewing for employment. The RAISE program consistently gives encouragement, emotional support and guidance. Regina has been working for the school system and is considered a model employee. As a parent, I am forever grateful for the RAISE program and how beneficial it has been for Regina.
It is an honor to continue to be a part of the RAISE family and they will be forever in our hearts.

Sarah106

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son, who has Aspergers, enrolled in RAISE a few years ago and it was the first time he had success in a job. He was already well into his 20’s and had tried a variety of paid and volunteer jobs, some with coaching. If you’re reading this, you too probably have a unique child who finds it challenging to fit into a workplace. I almost couldn’t believe my son’s success in his job working in the dining room of an independent living facility. His RAISE coach encouraged him and supported his strengths so that not only did he excel at setting the tables but he also interacted positively with the residents. He would come home after his shift and tell me about the conversations he had with the residents and the other staff. I could see his self esteem improve. His RAISE coach soon determined that he was performing his job responsibilities successfully on his own and didn’t need her help anymore. I give credit to the well organized, practical, supportive, and respectful RAISE program that enabled my son to have a positive and successful work experience.

Kristell P.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son participated in this program in 2018. Through the skills taught at the lunch and learns and the help he received from his job coaches and the counselors he has been able to go out and seek employment at an assisted living facility here in town. With the help of RAISE and their volunteers I have seen not only his confidence grow, but also his self esteem as he no longer feels that he is "less than". Not only did they give him the tools, but also the courage, to use his voice instead of me needing to use mine. I recommend this program to friends and co-workers every chance I get.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer job coach with RAISE for the past 4 years, I continue to feel grateful for the opportunity to have worked with 4 young adults with special needs. Through the program, I help to reinforce the social and work related skills that are being taught through weekly sessions, work sites and more recently weekly meetings via Zoom (due to the pandemic).
The progress that occurs within the 6-12 month training is extremely rewarding, knowing that these individuals can progress towards their future with confidence, independence and a sense of pride of what they can accomplish to make a difference in this world.
The prior 3 people that I've worked with were able to seek employment after completion of the RAISE program. The gratification that I personally feel towards them inspires me to believe that each of us can help to make a difference in someone's life.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The level of support that Raise provides its program participants goes above and beyond what can be found elsewhere in the community. As an Employment Specialist with community partner DiscoverAbility, my job is to help place Raise participants in jobs as they approach completion of their work experiences with Raise. The countless hours of training and coaching they have received from Raise supervisors, job coaches, and support staff in both hard skills and soft skills fully prepares them for their transition into independent employment!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son was very fortunate to be a RAISE employee in 2016. To this day, the amazing facilitators keep us within their extended family’s embrace. He gained many skills through the program that helped him in his work-life. AND he has been living on his own now for several years! We credit these huge strides to the confidence he gained through this truly remarkable program.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Through my work as a job coach with DiscoverABILITY, I have had the privilege to work with RAISE as a community partner. RAISE truly cares about each of its participants and treats them like family, helping them gain the necessary skills to be contributing members of their local community.

Great organization with a great mission helping adults with disabilities gain the knowledge and skills to integrate into the workforce!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter was a RAISE employee in 2019. She learned so much from her job coaches and the Lunch and Learn program. Through RAISE her confidence increased and she became her own self advocate. She is now proudly working at a preschool - a job she could only dream about before the RAISE program. RAISE is a blessing to those lucky enough to be a part of it.