What We Fund

JVSFinding 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 through its Signature, Community Employment and Special Initiative Grants has invested more than $36 million in job training, employment and community programs for individuals with disabilities. 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.

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.