Sussex County Teen Represents Delaware during “One-Millionth JAG Student” Event in Washington, D.C.

Wilmington, DE – Formed in Delaware over three decades ago by Governor Pete du Pont, Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) celebrates an important milestone today, with the enrollment of the one-millionth student (full JAG release below). Governor Markell now chairs the organization.

Representing the First State at the celebration is Laurel Senior High School student Da’Shalyn Barnes. President of her local chapter of Jobs for Delaware’s Graduates (JDG), Da’Shalyn also serves as secretary for the Delaware State Career Association as well as The National Honor Society, and is a representative of the Student Government Association. Her full bio is attached. She and Markell will participate in today’s National Leadership Awards Luncheon in Washington, where 31 students (one from each state with a JAG program) will represent the “One-Millionth JAG Student.”  They will join 250 leaders from business, government, education, and communities who support and invest their time and reputations in the work of Jobs for America’s Graduates.

Media interested in speaking with the Governor or others involved in today’s JAG celebration should contact Jonathon Dworkin at 302-233-6695 or



Jobs for America’s Graduates, a national non-profit with 35 years of experience in helping some of the nation’s most at-risk young people succeed in school and on the job, announces the enrollment of the one-millionth student since the inception of the organization under the leadership of Governor Pete du Pont in 1979.

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) now operates in 1,000 classroom sites in 31 states.  It provides intensive employability skills training, motivational student organization activities, remediation, academic support, and problem-solving for external issues that affect young men and women.  JAG students receive a full 12 months of follow-up after graduation to ensure their successful transition into work, higher education, or both.

The results of JAG have been consistent for 34 years:

  1. Dramatically increasing graduation rates to 90% or above.
  2. Doubling the rates that poor, disadvantaged, and young people of color are able to secure jobs and tripling the rates that they secure full-time employment.
  3. Increasing the rates of both higher education enrollment and completion for this same population – almost all first-generation college students.

Governor Jack Markell of Delaware serves as Chair of the Board of Jobs for America’s Graduates and nine other Governors serve on the Board, along with “C-suite” executives of the Fortune 500, the U.S. President of the United Way Worldwide, and the Presidents of the Business Roundtable and the National Urban League.

Governor Markell highlighted the “One-Millionth JAG Student” milestone by stating that it is “a special pleasure for all of us in Delaware who, for 35 years, have seen what an extraordinary value Jobs for America’s Graduates brings to young people.  It is a record of hope, opportunity, and delivery on the promise of jobs and higher education success for our young people.”

The “One-Millionth JAG Student” will be celebrated at the JAG National Leadership Awards Luncheon at noon on November 20 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington, DC.  More than 600 young leaders from around the country will attend, including those 31 who have been selected (one from each JAG state) to represent the “One-Millionth JAG Student.”  They will join 250 leaders from business, government, education, and communities who support and invest their time and reputations in the work of Jobs for America’s Graduates.

“[Before JAG] I had no direction in life and really felt that I would never do anything in my life. That is all in my past now. I know I belong in JAG. I know that I am loved and cared for. I know that I can achieve great things – things I never imagined at one point in my life. I have a plan for a wonderful future, for JAG has given me hope!” said Autumn Keith, Jobs for Georgia’s Graduates One-Millionth JAG Student representative.

In addition to Governor Jack Markell, it is anticipated that Governors Jay Nixon of Missouri, Phil Bryant of Mississippi, and John de Jongh, Jr. of the Virgin Islands (all JAG Board members) will attend.  Senator Tom Carper of Delaware (Vice Chair of the Board during his years as Governor of Delaware) will also participate at the event.

Governor Phil Bryant will become the JAG Chairman on January 1, 2015.  Regarding his attendance at this special event, the Governor stated that he is “humbled to be the Chair-elect of this high impact, proven program.  I look forward to continuing our efforts in Mississippi to grow Jobs for Mississippi Graduates from the current 50 to 100 programs, and as Chair I will work to increase the number of JAG programs across the country as we look ahead to serving the next one million JAG students.”

The event will highlight the remarkably generous investment of USA Funds in the work of Jobs for America’s Graduates and its new direction, to help ensure that JAG’s students achieve a higher level of success in graduation, higher education, and employment.  At the Luncheon, USA Funds will receive the National Student Investor of the Year Award for its investments in JAG and several other initiatives in various states to improve students’ successful enrollment in and completion of higher education.

McKinsey & Company will be recognized for launching its “Generation” Initiative that, over the next four years, will engage 250,000 young men and women in the a new form of engagement with employers to provide intensive training over 8-12 weeks, followed by two-month internships.  McKinsey & Company will receive the National Youth Employment Partnership Award for its leadership in building new relationships and connections between prospective employers and young people as they graduate from high school.

Governor to Address Employment Opportunities for Young People with Disabilities as Part of Disability Mentoring Day

More Than 25 Students to Visit Prospective Area Employers

New Castle, DE – Gov. Jack Markell will address the employment landscape encountered by young people with disabilities during Disability Mentoring Day activities hosted by the Department of Health and Social Services, the Department of Education, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and, for the sixth year, the University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies.

“Our expectation for young people with disabilities is that they get job exploration experiences like Disability Mentoring Day,” Gov. Markell said. “We know that young people who participate in such transition services are more engaged in planning their careers and will be ready for the world of work.”

More than 25 people with disabilities, including students from UD and the Christina School District and clients from DHSS’ Division of Developmental Disabilities Services and the Division for the Visually Impaired, will meet the governor and spend much of the day learning about different careers and networking with potential employers.

Two young women with disabilities, Alyssa Cowin, an operations support specialist with DHSS’ Office of the Secretary, and Julia Hensley, a recent graduate of Appoquinimink High School, helped to plan the day’s events.

Disability Mentoring Day kicks off 8:30 a.m. at the Courtyard hotel with remarks by Newark Mayor Polly Sierer, Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf, keynote speaker and self-advocate Elizabeth Weintraub and Center for Disabilities Studies Director Beth Mineo. After their job site visits, students will return to the hotel for a recognition ceremony and closing remarks from Ms. Cowin, Secretary Landgraf and Gov. Markell.

Disability Mentoring Day is a national effort held on the third Wednesday in October to promote career development for people with disabilities through hands-on career exploration, on-site job shadowing and peer mentoring. The joint effort this year by DHSS, DOE, DVR and CDS to promote the goals of Disability Mentoring Day have nearly doubled the number of young people registering to meet with area businesses. The collaboration also marks the first steps to turn Disability Mentoring Day in Delaware into a statewide event.

Gov. Markell devoted his one-year chairmanship as head of the National Governors Association to increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities across the country,

When:  October 15, 2014 (Disability Mentoring Day)

Gov. Markell speaks/appears from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Students visit job sites from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Where:  Courtyard  Newark-University of Delaware, 400 Hollowell Drive, Newark, DE.

Student worksite visits happen throughout New Castle County.

Contact: Victor Schaffner at CDS, 302-831-3038, or

Governor Markell Releases National Blueprint on Increasing Employment of People with Disabilities

NGA Summer Meetings 2013Blueprint is result of his year-long initiative as NGA Chair

Milwaukee, WI – At today’s opening session for the annual meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA), Governor Jack Markell released a blueprint of findings and recommendations compiled during a year-long project he led as NGA chair to increase hiring of people with disabilities. The document provides a roadmap for states, businesses and the disabilities community to work together on ways to address a persistent challenge and take advantage of the valuable skills possessed by this population.

Markell chose the topic realizing governors might be missing a unique opportunity to help businesses with their workforce concerns in a way that would generate broad bipartisan support. Of the estimated 54 million Americans living with a disability, only 20 percent are employed or seeking employment, compared to almost 70 percent of Americans without a disability.

“As governors, we know that when barriers prevent a significant segment of our population from participating in our workforce, talent is being wasted and our economic competitiveness suffers,” said Markell. “Businesses that are leading in hiring people with disabilities understand this effort isn’t about charity. As the CEO of Walgreens told us, he wants to have 25 percent of the company’s workforce consist of people with disabilities because it’s better for his bottom line and in the best interest of his shareholders.”

Markell’s initiative, “A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities,” involved gathering information from people with disabilities, other advocates, business leaders, federal agency representative, state policymakers and researchers. The NGA organized more than 60 meetings, as well as two roundtables, two sessions at the NGA Winter Meetings in Washington, D.C., and institutes in Pittsburgh and Seattle where people across the country gathered to learn and discuss best practices.

In presenting the blueprint to fellow governors, Markell said discussions with businesspeople throughout the initiative affirmed they care about an employee’s ability, not his or her disability. Instead of looking to businesses to solve a social service problem, Markell said states must approach companies by offering to help solve the challenges they face in finding and hiring skilled workers.

In addition, businesses are much more likely to buy-in to the benefits of employing people with disabilities when they know a peer in the private sector is doing so. Governors must bring business leaders together to talk about this topic and provide an opportunity for them to learn from each other.

Markell referenced a partnership being launched in Delaware that illustrates the potential for putting more people with disabilities to work.  The state has helped bring together the IT firm CAI and an international organization called Specialisterne, which is dedicated to employment of individuals with autism. CAI, a company that employs thousands of people across the country, is committed to hiring people who have autism for more than 3% of its workforce by 2015, recognizing that these individuals are especially qualified for technology roles like software testing, data quality assurance, programming, data mining and data entry.

The NGA blueprint provides options for states to align their policies, programs and services for individuals with disabilities in gaining enhanced access into the workforce, including executable ideas to:

  • Make employing people with disabilities part of the broader state workforce strategy;
  • Find and support more businesses who hire people with disabilities;
  • Ensure states are model employers of people with disabilities;
  • Prepare youth with disabilities for the workforce; and
  • Make the best use of scarce resources to advance employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

“We intentionally wrote this document as a ‘blueprint’ to map out practical actions governors can take, not as a report that will sit on a shelf,” said Markell. “It includes concrete examples for state policymakers as they work to advance employment opportunities for people with disabilities, which is a goal that every governor can support.”






National Governors Association Gathers in Milwaukee for Summer Meeting

NGA Summer Meetings 2013Governors to Focus on a Variety of Issues Facing States

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN—Governors joined together in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, today to kick off the National Governors Association’s (NGA) 105th Summer Meeting. NGA Chair Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Vice Chair Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Host Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and members of the NGA Executive Committee welcomed a bipartisan group of their colleagues for three days of meetings.

“These meetings are an opportunity to share experiences and discuss critical issues facing our states,” said Gov. Walker. “While Washington is gridlocked most days, states are not. Governors are focused on finding solutions to our most pressing challenges. I’m thrilled that my colleagues chose Wisconsin to host this meeting.”

The meeting will highlight Gov. Markell’s Chair’s Initiative, A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities, which focuses on the employment challenges that affect individuals with intellectual and other significant disabilities. “My initiative was designed to raise awareness about how the untapped talents of people with disabilities can contribute to a business’s bottom line,” Gov. Markell noted.

A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities looks at ways both state government and businesses can partner to bring opportunities to individuals with disabilities in the competitive labor market,” said Gov. Markell. “We’re making strides on this front, but the work is far from over. I look forward to the discussions we’ll be having on this topic this weekend.”

As part of his initiative, Gov. Markell will release A Blueprint for Governors later today. This document was created from the numerous events and meetings that were held over the past year. This blueprint is full of concrete and practical things that governors can do to advance employment opportunities for people with disabilities in their states.

Gov. Markell also highlighted the priorities governors have identified through NGA, including the evolving health care changes in states, flexibility of the Workforce Investment Act’s 15 percent set-aside, full use of the National Guard’s cost-effectiveness, addressing the nation’s water infrastructure needs and comprehensive federal tax reform.

Gov. Fallin reiterated the importance of bringing governors together to look for solutions to common challenges.

“This weekend is about bringing governors together to engage in a dialogue about important issues affecting our states,” said Gov. Fallin. “Since we face many similar challenges, NGA meetings give us an opportunity to learn a from each other’s experiences.”

Highlights of the meeting include:

  • A session with Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, founder and executive director of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, who will talk about state tools for health care cost containment;
  • Meetings of the Education and Workforce Committee and the Health & Homeland Security Committee;
  • A joint meeting of the Economic Development and Commerce Committee and the Natural Resources Committee to discuss the state of America’s infrastructure with the Honorable Anthony Foxx, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Honorable Bill Shuster, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure;
  • A session on advancing corrections reform; and
  • A session on cybersecurity with Matt Devost, president and CEO of Terrorism Research Center, Inc. and adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

Throughout the meeting, governors will attend “governors-only” sessions, which provide an opportunity to discuss issues states are facing in a private, off-the-record setting. The Summer Meeting will conclude with a welcome to incoming NGA Chair Gov. Fallin and the incoming vice chair, who will be announced on Sunday. In addition, Gov. Fallin will unveil her 2013-2014 Chair’s Initiative.

For up-to-date coverage of the 2013 Summer Meeting, follow NGA on Twitter @NatlGovsAssoc and like NGA on Facebook.


Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation’s governors and one of Washington, D.C.’s, most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 55 states, territories and commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices. For more information, visit


CAI and Specialisterne Announce National Partnership to Employ Individuals with Autism into Technology Jobs

Newark, DE –  Computer Aid, Inc. (CAI), a global Information Technology consulting, outsourcing and systems integration company today announced a National Founding Partnership with Specialisterne to train and hire people who have autism, in technology roles. With over 800 associates in the Delaware Valley, and 3,300 in the U.S., CAI plans to employ over 3% of its consultant workforce with people who have autism in technology roles in software testing, data quality assurance, programming, data mining and data entry, before the end of 2015.

CAI sees an innovative opportunity to leverage the unique talents of people with autism, while providing them a road map to develop meaningful IT careers. In the USA, it is estimated that one in every 88 people are impacted by autism. Specialisterne is a world leader in mobilizing the talents of people with autism to work in technology-focused jobs. Originally founded in Denmark, Specialisterne has operations around the world, including its new U.S. headquarters, which is based in Delaware.

“I credit [Delaware] Governor Jack Markell and [Delaware Health and Social Services Cabinet Secretary] Rita Landgraf for bringing CAI and Specialisterne together to begin this journey,” said CAI Managing Director Ernie Dianastasis. “As one of the largest IT firms in the Delaware Valley, we have a passion toward giving back to the community, particularly in the disabilities space. The opportunity to leverage our IT size and best practices in areas such as software testing, programming and data entry by employing individuals with autism was a no-brainer for us. This partnership will enable us to employ a significant number of folks with autism, as well as provide our customers like the State of Delaware to also participate.”

“We are thrilled by this opportunity to work with CAI as our Founding Partner on this national partnership,” said Specialisterne Founder and Board Chairman Thorkil Sonne. “ This partnership will not only create a significant number of new jobs in the Delaware Valley, but also throughout the United States, given CAI’s broad reach and capabilities. CAI and Specialisterne have very similar cultures and this is a great fit for us as we launch our U.S. operations.”

CAI and Specialisterne have started several projects to employ individuals with autism, including one with the State of Delaware Department of Health and Social Services.

“People are defined by their ability, not by their disability. Creating jobs means creating jobs for people of all abilities,” said Governor Markell. “By employing individuals with autism, CAI is utilizing unique talents to strengthen its own bottom line. Now, more than ever, our state and our nation’s competitiveness rely on using our full potential – everyone’s full potential. Many individuals with autism have the time, talent and desire to make meaningful contributions to interested employers.”

“At DHSS, we are proud to work with CAI and Specialisterne on a project that will employ people with autism,” Secretary Landgraf said. “To us, this ongoing partnership is about the power of opportunities. It will mean employment opportunities for individuals with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders. CAI will experience the opportunity to benefit from the special skills of individuals with autism spectrum disorders. And the people of Delaware will benefit from greater inclusion in our society. We celebrate CAI and Specialisterne for making this opportunity a reality for individuals who are full of ability.”

“I told Governor Markell and Secretary Landgraf that this is the strongest domestic job creation model out there. Imagine employing U.S. citizens who might otherwise be unemployed, to do something they love and are really good at,” said Dianastasis.


About CAI: CAI is a multi-million dollar global IT consulting and services firm that employs 3,300 associates, over 800 of which report into the Wilmington, Delaware office serving the Delaware Valley. CAI offers a broad spectrum of methodology-based IT services offerings, which focus on processes and metrics. These methodologies enable CAI to meet each customer’s individual needs and deliver projects with the highest degree of productivity. CAI has operations in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. In addition CAI is heavily committed to community service in all the markets it serves.

About Specialisterne: Specialisterne translates from Danish as “ The Specialists “, and was originally founded by Thorkil Sonne in 2004. Specialisterne is a socially innovative business that uses the characteristics of people with autism as a competitive advantage, and as a means to help people with autism secure employment. The majority of employees at Specialisterne have a diagnosis on the autism scale and perform tasks such as software testing, programming and data entry for the corporate sector. Specialisterne is a global company with operations in Europe.

Video from the event can be seen here.