UMKC Institute for Human Development receives first ‘President’s Award’ from Greater Kansas City Business Leadership Network

KANSAS CITY, Mo. The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Institute for Human Development (IHD) has been awarded the first Greater Kansas City Business Leadership Network’s President’s Award for its leadership in the “Add-Us-In” project. The project’s goal is to provide a continuum of career opportunities for urban youth with disabilities within the greater Kansas City area through a business-led network that creates jobs and markets workforce training and services to prospective employers.

“Add-Us-In is unique because of the role the business community is taking in leading the development of job opportunities for youth with disabilities,” said Derrick Willis, Project Director of Add-Us-In. “Our business partners in this effort are helping design training opportunities for youth, sharing success stories with other businesses, and ultimately hiring youth with disabilities.”

With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor, Add-Us-In recently concluded the pilot phase of an “Urban Careers Academy,” a seven-week career exploration, preparation and planning course for youth and young adults with disabilities. The academy gave urban youth with disabilities the opportunity to learn and practice skills that are necessary to attain and sustain employment, such as:

  • identifying networking contacts and natural supports
  • self-assessment of personal strengths and weaknesses
  • professionalism in an interview and on the job
  • understanding employer expectations
  • developing next steps and a career action plan

“Input from our business partners helped participants understand the things that are truly important when seeking jobs,” said Willis. “Giving youth with disabilities this experience gives them a better chance to live fuller, more independent lives.”

Keith Wiedenkeller, President of the Greater Kansas City Business Leadership Network and SVP & Chief People Officer for AMC Entertainment Inc., believes in the mission and method of the Add-Us-In project.

“We selected UMKC IHD for this award because of their vision, ongoing leadership and stewardship of the Add-Us-In Business Consortium,” said Wiedenkeller. “IHD’s Urban Career Academy is a shining example of the kinds of outcomes that can be achieved when business, education and service provider groups all work toward common goals.”

The award was presented at the Business Leadership Network’s annual DisAbility Champion Awards event, held in Overland Park, KS on December 6, 2011, with WDAF Fox 4 News’ John Holt as master of ceremonies. The event also recognized employers who go the extra mile to create an inclusive workplace for people with disabilities, including awards for Champion employers among medium and large-sized businesses.

Add-Us-In is one of over 50 projects of the UMKC Institute for Human Development, an applied research and interdisciplinary training center. For over 33 years, IHD has exemplified UMKC’s mission by demonstrating research to practice through community partnerships for effective social change.

For more information, visit and Photos of the event can be found on Flickr.

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City, one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.

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