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Individuals with disabilities prove they are ready, willing and able to work. 

The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), sponsored by Voya Financial® (Voya), is advocating for equal rights for all individuals with Down syndrome through C21, a unique dining experience held at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, June 4. The C21 event was first launched in Washington, D.C., in 2017 by NDSS and the Saatchi & Saatchi NY advertising firm. Named for the extra twenty-first chromosome characteristic of Down syndrome, C21 demonstrates to the world that individuals with Down syndrome are ready, willing and able to work.

“C21 is a remarkable event in which individuals with Down syndrome are given an opportunity to demonstrate to business and community leaders, employers and the world that they are deserving of being valued by employers,” NDSS President and CEO Sara Weir said. “As the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome, it is our mission to work toward a world in which all individuals with Down syndrome have the same rights as every other American — including the right to a quality career, not just a job.”

At the first C21 event, NDSS announced its End Law Syndrome campaign, an initiative to raise awareness of a series of antiquated laws that hinder individuals with Down syndrome from pursuing their career aspirations and living independently.

“At Voya, we believe all Americans deserve a secure financial future — especially those with disabilities, who sometimes struggle to be welcomed into the workforce,” said Heather Lavallee, president of Tax-Exempt Markets for Voya’s Retirement business. “We’re thrilled to be able to partner with NDSS for the C21 event. Its mission closely aligns with Voya’s broader focus to help all Americans move closer to the future they envision — and meaningful, valued employment is an important step to achieving that future.”

During the remainder of this year, NDSS and Voya will continue to help raise awareness of current employment legislation through C21, specifically on the passage of the bipartisan H.R.1377, Transitioning to Integrated, Meaningful Employment (TIME) Act. This legislation seeks to responsibly phase-out an 80-year-old provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which, even in 2018, continues to allow certain employers to pay wages lower than the federal minimum wage to workers who have disabilities.

To learn more about NDSS and C21, visit Voya is committed to supporting all Americans with holistic financial wellness and retirement planning solutions. This includes support for the disability and caregiver community, where Voya offers a depth of resources focused on holistic education and planning through its Voya Cares™ program. To learn more, visit

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Originally published: June 8, 2018
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