As members of PAEP, the Parents Alliance Employment Project, KELCO was recently recognized as an Outstanding Employer that supports individuals with disabilities in the workplace. The award was in conjunction with Project SEARCH at Northwestern Medical Center in Woodstock, Illinois.

PAEP is a supportive employment agency that assists individuals with disabilities to help obtain and retain competitive employment within the communities it serves in Northern Illinois. In 2021, KELCO was recognized alongside other local companies with a Business and Inclusion Award from PAEP.

“Workplace inclusion is important to us at KELCO,” says Kevin Kelly, CEO of KELCO. “Programs like PAEP and SEARCH help to level the playing field and give everyone a fair chance at solid employment.”

Project SEARCH at Northwestern Medicine prepares young people with significant disabilities for success in competitive integrated employment. The program provides real-life work experience combined with training and independent-living skills to help young people with significant disabilities make successful transitions to productive adult life.

The Project SEARCH model involves a nine-month period of skills training and career exploration, innovative adaptations, long-term job coaching, and continuous feedback from instructors, skills trainers, and mentors. Upon completion of the program, interns with intellectual disabilities are employed within the community in nontraditional, complex, and rewarding jobs.

Companies that participate in project SEARCH have far-reaching positive effects on enhancing employment pathways for people with disabilities in a range of jobs where they can be successful.

“KELCO has really benefitted from the employees we’ve gained from PAEP and SEARCH,” Kelly adds. “Especially in today’s labor market, it can be challenging to find qualified, consistent employees. We’ve been fortunate to welcome several new team members to the KELCO family through these programs.”

For more information on Project SEARCH, please visit:

For more information on PAEP, please visit:

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