How the Disneyland Resort Workforce Development Initiative Makes a Difference

Since 1955, Disneyland Resort has welcomed guests to experience immersive stories and imagine the possibilities within them. That same commitment continues into the community, where the resort has contributed in a myriad of ways including millions of dollars in cash and in-kind donations to local nonprofit organizations, leaders serving on boards and thousands of Disney VoluntEARS hours provided by cast members.

To help develop and prepare the workforce in Orange County, Disneyland Resort provides career readiness opportunities to Anaheim students and residents through its community workforce development initiative. The initiative is focused on empowering job-seekers to build the workforce of tomorrow through collaborations with school districts and nonprofit organizations that serve a diverse set of community needs.

In total, the Disneyland Resort community workforce development initiative has impacted more than 10,000 lives over the last six years. The resort recently awarded its annual workforce development grants, which have provided more than $6.5 million in financial support, in addition to countless volunteer hours by Disney VoluntEARS, to support the community workforce development initiative.

Read on to discover how the Disneyland Resort community workforce development initiative makes a difference with organizations, Disney VoluntEARS and participants.

disney voluntears standing by chrysalis sign

Chasing Professional Dreams with Chrysalis

Through the ongoing support of Disneyland Resort, Chrysalis has been able to significantly impact the lives of individuals experiencing barriers to employment. With a mission to serve people navigating barriers to the workforce, Chrysalis established its Anaheim center in 2018 and has served more than 2,500 clients to-date – thanks in large part to a cumulative $1 million donation from Disneyland Resort. Since then, the resort has helped Chrysalis support jobseekers in a variety of ways including practicing job interviews, resume writing and educational training – all with the goal of uplifting vulnerable individuals to find pathways to stability, security and fulfillment.

“We have helped over 1,500 individuals find employment with outside employers or with one of Chrysalis’ employment social enterprise businesses,” said Mark Loranger, president & CEO of Chrysalis “In addition, we have partnered with the Disneyland Resort to create employment pathways for our clients and have seen many become cast members themselves! The resort’s support and collaboration serve as a testament to the shared vision of creating a positive impact on the community by fostering pathways to employment and economic stability.”

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women hugging

Aim Higher with AIME — Anaheim’s Innovative Mentoring Experience

Disneyland Resort cast member Kim McNamee has always had a passion for volunteering, giving back to the local community and making a difference alongside her peers. As an active Disney VoluntEAR, Kim has taken part in numerous projects throughout her time at the resort, but holds a special place in her heart for her participation in AIME — Anaheim’s Innovative Mentoring Experience.

This career mentorship program for Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD) students offers them the opportunity to experience professional working environments over the course of a summer, including a behind-the-scenes look at the magic of Disneyland Resort. Kim has participated in AIME over the last two years, mentoring students at a pivotal point in their educational career — preceding their final year of high school. “This program hits them at a very critical age in their life,” Kim says. “There was such a strong connection built amongst themselves and with us as mentors.”

As a senior manager of Park Operations at Disneyland Resort, Kim felt honored to pass on her insights to students in the early stages of their professional career. Just as the students learned from Kim’s advice as a leader, she too learned from their intuitive instincts, immeasurable talent and persistent empathy. “Those students are so capable and have such bright futures,” Kim reflects. “I was surprised how big of an impact they made on us collectively.”

women smiling at disneyland galaxy's edge

Building Relationships with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire

Through the workplace mentoring program at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire, Aileen Cardenas discovered how the power of a mentor could impact her life, both personally and professionally. During her sophomore year of high school, Aileen was paired with a mentor — Disneyland Resort cast member Ivy Goodman — who aided her aspirations to become a commendable communicator and a fearless leader. During her experience in the program, Aileen acquired skills both inside and outside of the classroom, everything from managing finances to building interpersonal relationships. Perhaps most importantly, she forged a bond with Ivy that inspired her to attend college and become a Disneyland Resort cast member herself.

Today, as a Merchandise cast member on Main Street, U.S.A., in Disneyland park, Aileen engages with hundreds of guests per day — suitable training for her future goal of becoming an elementary school teacher one day. Prior to Aileen’s role at the resort, it was Ivy who demonstrated admirable leadership skills, which guided Aileen’s own understanding of what it means to be a good mentor.

“Having an amazing role model like Ivy, it showed me what my students will expect of me,” Aileen says. “She is such a good person and a people-person; working here, you have to be. She taught me how to communicate with people and interact with people.” Just as Ivy makes magic for Aileen, Aileen passes on magic to guests everyday — all thanks to the insurmountable impact of their connection.