College students with disabilities looking for an opportunity to jump start their career path may need to look no further.

Emerging Leaders, coordinated by the National Business & Disability Council (NBDC) at The Viscardi Center, is a highly competitive program that places top undergraduate and graduate college students with disabilities in fulfilling summer internships nationwide that provide them with meaningful leadership development and networking opportunities.

“Since NBDC began offering the Emerging Leaders program, qualified applicants have been placed in internship positions at a wide spectrum of businesses all across the United States,” explained, Laura M. Francis, Executive Director at the National Business & Disability Council at The Viscardi Center, a comprehensive resource for Fortune 1000 companies seeking to include people with disabilities in the workplace, marketplace and supply chain. “Given the tough competition for jobs at all levels and the fact that people with disabilities continue to be employed at much lower rates than people without disabilities, it is clear that employment preparation and engagement for our younger generation is more important than ever.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Employment Report, the unemployment rate in October for people with disabilities is 12.9%, far greater than the general unemployment rate of 7.9%. In fact, the unemployment rate has been in the 13% range for people with disabilities most of the past year. The BLS report also noted that in October there were 23.3 million people with disabilities who were not working.

Further, people with disabilities who have the educational requirements to find rewarding and satisfying jobs continue to participate in the workforce at a lower rate than the general population. Only 33% of people with disabilities, holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher, are employed versus 80% of those without disabilities.

“Often intelligent, young men and women with disabilities are denied the opportunities for a strong start to their career that other college students enjoy, such as internship experiences,” noted John D. Kemp, President & CEO of The Viscardi Center, “and many studies have proven that volunteering or participating in an internship are the best predictors of future success in the workplace.”

The program gives students priceless insight that can positively impact their career development. “My Emerging Leaders internship was an ideal introduction into corporate America and opened my eyes to possible career paths. My manager and colleagues mentored me and ensured that I had every opportunity to gain new skills, grow my strengths, and network. My experience this summer is invaluable,” said Kylie Long, Emory College, Emerging Leaders Class of 2012.

Jason Lee, a New York University student, summed up his experience, “The internship has prepared me to tackle the real world and have confidence in doing so. Truly, Emerging Leaders is like no other program. You receive guidance and opportunities to grow and learn. I will forever remember this program as the first major stepping-stone to the real world.”

Applications for the program are due by January 18, 2013. For more information about the program and to apply, undergraduate and graduate college students with disabilities may visit

Founded by Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., who served as disability advisor to eight U.S. presidents and became one of the world’s leading advocates, The Viscardi Center provides Pre-K through High School education, school-to-work transition services, vocational training, career counseling and placement and workforce diversification assistance to children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities and businesses. A global leader, it employs more than 300 professionals, including experts in education, human resources and technology. Learn more at .


QUESTIONS? CONTACT: Kim Brussell,, 516.465.1608

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