The Opportunity Center and AstraZeneca Partner To Educate Local Students With Disabilities

Embargoed until: May 25, 2010

WILMINGTON, Del., May 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Opportunity Center, Inc. (OCI) and AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) are partnering on an innovative program that gives Wilmington area school students with disabilities the opportunity to learn valuable job skills in a corporate setting. The program, called Path to Employment, is designed to increase career awareness and help students learn work requirements through modeling and examples.

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OCI currently partners with Brandywine School District to provide comprehensive career exploration to students who have significant barriers to employment. The program, in its second year, has been very successful with assisting students to make a smooth transition from school to work. The students in the Brandywine School District program are a perfect fit for the opportunities at AstraZeneca.

"We are extremely proud of the development of this groundbreaking program with AstraZeneca," said Cindy Sterling, OCI director of employment services. "The program has been a big success. We are amazed by the dedication of the AstraZeneca committee that helped create it and honored that they chose OCI as a partner."

The Path to Employment program consists of short-term, unpaid assignments with AstraZeneca corporate security, the fitness center, the medical suite and the human resources department. Students are trained to greet AstraZeneca corporate visitors and assist them with reaching their destination within the campus that employs thousands of people in Wilmington.

"AstraZeneca has trusted OCI to train the students to greet each visitor and lead them to their destination," said Shane Evans, OCI employment consultant. "Each student needed to have outgoing personalities and the ability to learn customer service techniques."

A valuable part of the assignment consists of weekly meetings with executives, behind-the-scenes tours, job shadowing days and mentoring opportunities. This opportunity has provided participants a chance to develop the social skills required to interact in a workplace culture.

"AstraZeneca is pleased to have the opportunity to work with OCI and local students who may face challenges preparing for employment, and to provide them with this experience to help them prepare for a bright future. Our goal is to arm these students with the added confidence and necessary skills to help prepare themselves for employment," said Bob Wiley, AstraZeneca senior director facilities management.

"I am very happy with the work OCI has done for my son, especially recommending him to AstraZeneca," said Marilyn Ramirez, parent of program participant Ruben Ortiz. "Ruben comes home happy, speaks very highly of the program and enjoys the work he performs. Thank you to OCI and AstraZeneca for having my son on your team."

Students attend OCI for training, instead of school, each day.  In addition, OCI staff accompany the students to various businesses to explore different jobs and environments.

About The Opportunity Center, Inc.

Opportunity Center, Inc. is private not-for profit organization, based out of Wilmington Delaware, dedicated to offering vocational rehabilitation and employment services for people with disabilities. In its over 50 years of existence; OCI has assisted more than 2,000 individuals to secure employment with local businesses.  For more information about OCI, please visit or call 302-762-0300.

About AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines.  As a leader in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology and infectious disease medicines, AstraZeneca generated global revenues of $32.8 billion in 2009. In the United States, AstraZeneca is a $14.8 billion healthcare business.   

For more information about AstraZeneca in the US or our AZ&Me™ Prescription Savings programs, please visit: or call 1-800-AZandMe (292-6363).  

SOURCE AstraZeneca