The mission of Boulder Treasures is to create pathways to purpose and community for adults with developmental disabilities.
As parents of an adult daughter with developmental disabilities, we were inspired to found Boulder Treasures after witnessing first-hand the barriers our daughter and her peers experience in securing a job. Employment provides a sense of purpose, value, and full participation in the community for us all. For the hundreds of adults with developmental disabilities in Boulder and Broomfield counties, these are aspirations that are far too often inaccessible. Across Colorado, 85% of individuals with developmental disabilities are unemployed. Of those who do have jobs, approximately two-thirds earn sub-minimum wages in irregular "enclave" employment isolated from the general public. These statistics are unacceptable.
Getting that first job without prior work experience is incredibly difficult for us all. For adults with developmental disabilities whose employment potential is often misunderstood and overlooked, it is that much more difficult. As a result, while many of these individuals participate in government-funded day programs, more often than not, they just hang out at home. They have given up on their dream of landing that first job and actively participating in the community. We see this as a terrible waste!
Boulder Treasures, Inc. was founded to create pathways to meaningful employment for this population through paid on-the-job training, work experience, and job placement services provided at Ramble on Pearl, a retail store established, designed and staffed to assist our apprentices secure and successfully transition to permanent employment in the community.
While Ramble on Pearl is a unique addition to Boulder's retail landscape, what makes us truly revolutionary is the integration of our mission with the day-to-day operations of our store. In our program, apprentices learn transferrable job skills while gaining valuable work experience. Individuals work up to 12 hours per week under the supervision of a skilled job coach and alongside our retail staff who have been trained to provide natural supports to ensure their success. After demonstrating independence, our apprentices continue to gain work experience as Master Apprentices without a job coach. After 2 to 3 months in training, our apprentices are provided job placement services to help them secure independent, competitive, and sustainable employment in the community. 90% of those who have completed our program have obtained above minimum wage jobs!
After 5 years focusing our efforts on expanding employment opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities, we have expanded our mission through a collaboration with Boulder Housing Partners as part of their 30Pearl affordable housing project. This 120 unit affordable housing complex will include 20 units specifically set aside for adults with developmental disabilities plus shared spaces within which we will be providing community engagement services to assist these residents connect with each other and the broader community of Boulder. In addition, we will be expanding our apprenticeship program through a second retail/commercial space co-located with the housing.
Being in Boulder Treasure's program has been a fun ride. It also taught me too embrace myself through my inner beauty and to have confidence to shine no matter where I go in life.
- Miah Y., Graduate Apprentice
I can't express my gratitude enough ... or speak highly enough of the folks at Ramble. Together, Alex is going to build an impressive set of skills and become highly employable. He loves both jobs, so he may never leave them, but if he does, I know his resume will ensure his quick employment.
Thank you again for making such a difference in Alex's life.
- Risa W., Alex's mother