The Polus Center for Social & Economic Development, Inc. is a Massachusetts non-government organization that has supported people with disabilities since 1979, beginning with community-based residential and vocational programs for people with disabilities in Massachusetts. Polus Center's efforts have included the development of prosthetics clinics, rehabilitation programs, vocational training, and other forms of assistance to help people recover from physical and psychological trauma. All of Polus Center's programs have been designed to combat social stigma and help people live as valued members within their communities.
In 1998, the Polus Center began establishing person-centered programs for individuals impacted by landmines and other explosive remnants of war. With support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA), and other public and private foundations, the Polus Center has been providing physical rehabilitation and creating social and economic opportunities for survivors of landmines and explosive remnants of war throughout Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.
The Polus Center continues to broaden the scope of its mission beyond the provision of direct services, to include planning and development consultation services on the national and international level.
In 2015, the Polus Center began employment and training programs for people who are blind or visually impaired. Polus Center's work in Massachusetts today helps people with disabilities and other barriers gain skills, credentials, career support, and work-based learning opportunities to help them live independently and find competitive integrated employment. One of our newest projects, Trades Win: Career Exploration Through Storytelling, reaches across the country to identify and interview people who are blind or visually impaired doing a wide variety of work across industries and skill levels.
Through our long-term connection with the Mass Hire North Central Workforce Board and Career Center, and the Massachusetts Commonwealth Corporation, we partner with the local business community to understand employer skill and talent needs, identify hard-to-fill positions, and connect employers with job seekers who might otherwise have difficulty accessing meaningful employment. Our job-driven training is co-developed with hiring managers to ensure that participants have likely employment offers upon graduation. This opens up valuable opportunities for people with disabilities to obtain competitive, integrated employment with meaningful career pathways. This training has resulted in full time employment as Pharmacy Technicians in partnership with CVS Health, grocery career opportunities in partnership with Whole Foods and Price Chopper, and, beginning in 2022, training for Human Service Direct Support Professionals across Massachusetts.
Polus Center's collaborative partnership with the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, with support from foundations such as the Readers’ Digest Partners for Sight Foundation, has resulted in a growing number of innovative initiatives that include the Envision Success Project (ESP), which provides customized pre-employment transition services for youth with visual impairments age 14-22. The Employment Now Initiative gives long-time unemployed blind adults intensive career development and job placement support and up to nine months of internship opportunities at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Institute (MEEI). Trades Win: Career Exploration through Storytelling provides training in how to interview, create videos, podcasts, and published writing skills for young adults who are blind or low-vision, by interviewing other people who are blind employed across industries and professional disciplines.