The David C. Onley Initiative for Employment and Enterprise Development (DCOI), a project of the READ Initiative, was a collaborative partnership between the University of Ottawa, Algonquin College, La Cité and Carleton University. This page has been established to commemorate the work of the Initiative by showcasing some of the key milestones, activities and deliverables affiliated with the project.

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The Journey

The David C. Onley Initiative (DCOI) was a truly collaborative project. It brought together campus career and disability offices, post-secondary students and recent graduates, faculty members, employers and start-ups and community service providers throughout the Greater Ottawa Area and across Ontario.

Our sincere gratitude goes to the Honorable David C. Onley for demonstrating his continued support for the work of the Initiative, and for being one of our greatest champions. The support of our entire team and community of stakeholders has been truly unique and highly impactful, and we would like to thank everyone that has played an integral role in the success of the Initiative.

We would also like to thank and acknowledge the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities for awarding the funds to pursue this research.

Julie Caldwell Assistant Director, Program Operations
Tara Connolly Assistant Director, Research and Development

Carleton University’s READ Initiative launched the DCOI in July 2018.

The David C. Onley Initiative, which came to end in April 2020, was designed to share knowledge, tools and resources and to raise awareness of the barriers that prevent many post-secondary students with disabilities from finding meaningful employment.

The DCOI staff was comprised of 24 engaged team members.

They were responsible for both the research and development components of the Initiative, as well as the day-to-day operations, employer outreach and dedicated support for events and training.

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Tools & Resources

The DCOI looked at the gaps that existed in a number of areas that required better support for post-secondary students with disabilities—as well as for campus service providers and employers. We saw a lack of tip sheets, toolkits and guides to help businesses support the employment pathways of students and graduates with disabilities. So, we produced an array of resources that we disseminated in the community.

While our full repository is still being developed, we invite you to visit our Resources page and continue to check back over the next couple of weeks for more updates.

In September 2020, we will make our full report of findings available.

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Businesses are #AbleTo remove barriers for students and graduates with disabilities.

One movement for many audiences.

We needed to highlight the employment gap students and graduates with disabilities encounter by dispelling stubborn myths and preconceptions about ability assumed by Ottawa’s employers and business owners. To amplify our message, we launched a campaign of awareness and action that embraced the experiences and capabilities of these students and graduates.

We produced a series of videos and stories featuring students, advocates and employers to help frame our campaign’s narrative.

We also filmed the four partner schools’ presidents making their own #AbleTo pledges in support of their students.

Learn more about our #AbleTo campaign, how we engaged students and employers, and explore our videos and resources by clicking on the link below.

Our partners continue to support.

We always knew the DCOI would come to an end. So, as we navigated the many different elements of our work, we collaborated with the READ Initiative team to ensure we addressed not only building the capacity of our partners—both on- and off-campus—but also every opportunity to support the sustainability of our efforts across our networks.

The DCOI team collaborated closely with a number of organizations, including some of these key contributors:

Employment Accessibility Resource Network
Ottawa Employment Hub
Ottawa Board of Trade
Discoverability Networks
Ontario Chamber of Commerce
A group of professionals ready to work together.

To stay connected to the READ Initiative and its work and other projects, please click here.