ProAct introduces new employment service: ‘The Route’

Photo: ProAct employment specialist Carole Gruenhagen assists participant Kassidy G. with one-to-one instruction, counseling and support through “The Route” program.

A good foundation and ample planning can make all the difference when searching for a job. ProAct is bringing these two elements together in a new service called “The Route.”

Designed for people with disabilities using waiver services, The Route tackles the first two of four segments, Engage and Plan, as outlined by Minnesota’s E1MN. The state agency partnership advances Minnesota’s “Employment First” or E1 supports so people can understand their options and what they need to achieve and maintain competitive integrated employment.

Bryan is an individual ProAct served through The Route, and learned about the pride and sense of accomplishment experienced by people in the workforce, explains ProAct employment specialist Carole Gruenhagen. He also found out that having a job would allow him to purchase items that he may not be able to afford otherwise.Employment First Minnesota logo

Each time Gruenhagen met with Bryan, she found him more motivated to explore job opportunities and his participation level grew. The process built up excitement for the job search which would follow. Bryan said he received the information he needed to help him get a job.

He is one of several participants who are making informed choices. Since the program launched on July 12, six ProAct participants have completed the process and five decided to pursue competitive, integrated employment, said ProAct Program Manager Anna Cahak. She said the service fills a void for participants and better prepares them for the expectations of competitive work.

ProAct VP Kim Feller said the Engage element identifies a person’s interests and strengths, followed by the Plan part of The Route, which helps participants prepare for the job search ahead. The Route incorporates the Engage and Plan components of the E1MN model. Once ready, participants begin the more formal job search process or job development. This is the Find component. “Of course, once employed the goal is to focus on keeping their job.”

ProAct covers workplace communication, appropriate attire and employer expectations. Weekly service is provided with one-to-one instructors, who also provide counseling and support. The curriculum is individualized to fit the needs of each future job seeker.

The Route brings together Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS), State Services for the Blind (SSB) and the Department of Human Services (DHS).

With The Route service complete, people have a distinct advantage when they move on to phases three and four of E1MN: Find and Keep. Find is the more formal job search piece and is facilitated by VRS and SSB. DHS waiver services support participants in the Keep phase, as well as the Engage and Plan phases offered by ProAct. ProAct also provides intensive employment supports to ensure participants maintain employment once they are placed in a job.

Find out more about The Route by emailing Anna Cahak at, or by calling 651-289-3177