What We Fund


Visit us in December for 2018 Grant Proposal Deadlines

Finding Solutions by Supporting Employment Initiatives

Kessler Foundation Program Center is dedicated to finding employment solutions and creating awareness of the high unemployment and underemployment of Americans with disabilities. It is under the direction of Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, senior vice president of Grants and Communications.

Since 2005, Kessler Foundation has invested more than $40 million in job training, employment and community programs for individuals with disabilities through its Signature, Community Employment and Special Initiative Grants. The Foundation's grants have connected more than 10,000 individuals with disabilities with competitive employment. In 2016 alone, the Foundation awarded $2.5 million in grants. Our goal through these programs is to raise awareness that people with disabilities are often an untapped resource for employment opportunities and have the ability to help grow a company's bottom line.


In this podcast, Elaine Katz, Senior VP of Grants and Communications at Kessler Foundation, speaks at the Employer Recognition Breakfast Hosted by The Essex County & Newark Workforce Development Boards’ Disability Issues Committee

Bridging the Gap Through Disability Employment Research 

Bringing with him more than 35 years of experience in vocational rehabilitation, John O'Neill, PhD, became director of Employment and Disability Research in 2012. He is deeply involved in research to understand how the following factors affect the employment outcomes of people with disabilities: health conditions, individual characteristics (e.g. race, gender, age), human capital, work experience, education, social capital (e.g. membership in community organizations, nature and quality of family and non-family relationships), and environmental factors. Such research will ultimately allow vocational rehabilitation services to be more effectively tailored to the needs of individuals. Dr. O'Neill is also involved in the implementation and evaluation of two program demonstrations to improve the outcomes of individuals with spinal cord injuries. One will improve the utilization of assistive technology at the workplace, and the other provides early vocational resource facilitation services to medical rehabilitation inpatients with intensive follow-up services post-discharge. Government agencies and foundations, including the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) and the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, fund his research.