Since 2012, Invest for children has been committed to promoting the employment inclusion of individuals with intellectual disabilities through the Aura Foundation project. Aura Foundation was established in October 1989. It is a non-profit organization that initially began as an association and later became a foundation in 2004. It was the first “Supported Employment” programme in Spain, pioneering the implementation and development of this methodology.
Aura Foundation’s MISSION is to improve the quality of life for individuals with intellectual disabilities through social and employment inclusion, following the “Supported Employment” methodology. It was founded to provide an alternative opportunity, a new approach to the path of “normalization” initiated during the school years and coinciding with the new law 12/1982, L.I.S.M.Y, which, in its first article, stated:
“The primary purpose of the employment policy for disabled workers shall be their integration into the ordinary employment system or, if this is not possible, their incorporation into the productive system through a special protected employment formula.”
AURA was a pioneer in Spain and in Europe in applying the “Supported Employment” methodology, started in the United States in the late 1970s. This represented a qualitative leap in the recognition of rights and the improvement of the quality of life for individuals with intellectual disabilities. With this methodology, AURA opened up opportunities for many individuals to work in open-market environments, offering them personalized support. The name AURA, according to the R.A.E dictionary, means “Gentle, pleasant, and favorable wind.” Perhaps the choice of the name has led to a series of favorable events that have accompanied it throughout its history.
During this time, a total of 487 accumulated contracts have been achieved.
One of AURA’s objectives has been to disseminate the “Supported Employment” methodology. In this regard, AURA has been a member and founder of the Spanish Association AESE, the European Association EUSE, and the Catalan ACTAS.
It has been recognized both within and outside the country as a reference and model of good practice, an enabler and guide for numerous programmes in Spain, Europe, and especially in many Latin American countries.
Life and Supported Employment
Since 2003, the Aura Project transitioned from being a non-profit association to a foundation in order to provide stability for the future and gain recognition as being of public interest. AURA’s mission is to help enhance the quality of life for individuals with intellectual disabilities through social and employment inclusion, following the Supported Employment methodology. The ability to instill confidence in individuals with disabilities regarding their capabilities and potential for change and improvement has been AURA’s most valuable asset. The foundation’s values include respect for each individual’s unique differences, commitment to the mission, the participants, and their families, an innovative and positive spirit. Aura is understood as valuing each individual as unique and believing in their abilities, maximizing them in personal, social, and professional settings.
Until July 2007, after 18 years of legal precarity, Supported Employment was finally regulated at the national level. AURA directly contributed to ensuring that Supported Employment had a recognized place and became an eligible option for many individuals with disabilities. The Supported Employment methodology is tailored to the needs of each person, like a custom-made suit, considering that each person is unique and deserves personalized treatment adapted to their wishes, capabilities, and personal characteristics. AURA views work as a means and not an end in itself to achieve balance in the personal realization of a life project.
As of September 2023, Aura Foundation has served 371 participants, with 301 individuals participating in the Aura Labour Program. In September, 55 new contracts were obtained, totaling 252 job positions in companies such as DABA Nespresso, Penguin Random House, and CaixaBank. Thanks to all the companies that make employment inclusion a reality.