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Business Enterprise Program (BEP)
Under the Randolph Sheppard Act, federal and state laws give priority to blind individuals to operate and manage food and vending services in federal and state government office buildings and facilities. The BEP places qualified legally blind business persons to manage food service operations in these buildings plus some privately owned facilities.
Currently, these facilities consist of large cafeterias, small cafeterias, a military dining hall, snack bars, convenience stores, and vending machine units.
The BEP purchases the initial inventory, supplies and equipment at these food service locations, as prescribed by federal law. The blind business managers have sole ownership of these business operations. Subsequent inventory and supplies are replenished at their expense, and they are responsible for all management functions. These functions include hiring, paying personnel and paying all business and employment taxes and insurance and any other related withholding. At the end of a given business cycle, the blind business manager enjoys a profit or suffers a loss. The BEP receives a franchise-like fee from the blind business managers for their membership in this program.
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation counselors throughout the state make the initial referrals of interested candidates to the Personal Adjustment Training Program of the Colorado Rehabilitation Center. The student enters into a two-week comprehensive evaluation in the Personal Adjustment Training Program and the Vocational Evaluation Program. Here the student is given vocational evaluation tests to determine aptitude toward business. The student's personal skills as a blind individual are also evaluated, and if needed, further instruction is given to the student.
The student is then exposed to a two-week full time, on-site evaluation experience in one or more cafeterias in the program. This allows the student to assess the program as well as the agency to assess the student. The student is required to take eight prescribed business administration core classes at an area community college before entering the next phase of training. If the agency and the student are both satisfied, then full time training begins.
Training is conducted at BEP sites throughout the state. Training is approximately thirty weeks, however, the training curriculum and time is individualized to the student. When the student graduates from the training program, he or she becomes a manager of a BEP food service location. During the first year, the new manager must demonstrate and apply skills learned in training. After a one year internship, the operator earns the privilege of becoming a Licensed Blind Business Operator of Colorado.
The Colorado Business Enterprise Program is committed to providing an up-to-par standardized program, and strives to be a top performer among the various states' Business Enterprise Programs.
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Mission Statement: The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation assists individuals whose disabilities result in barriers to employment to succeed at work and live independently.