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What We Fund

Kessler Foundation Program Center is a division of Kessler Foundation dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities through community outreach, including grants to non-profit organizations and education to consumers and professionals. Our Signature Employment Grants and Community Employment Grants support a broad range of initiatives that help people with disabilities enter or transition to employment through training, job placement, social entrepreneurship, and other programs. Special Initiative Grants are invitation-only grants for projects and organizations that fulfill needs for special transportation and adaptive technology, or offer opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in recreational activities and sports. ThinkFirst, a community based injury prevention program, and WheelBlazers, an award-winning New Jersey based racing team, are directly sponsored programs of Kessler Foundation. Programs for consumers and health professionals are hosted throughout the year.

The importance of Kessler Foundation Program Center was reaffirmed in 2010 with the release of two surveys, sponsored by Kessler Foundation and the National Organization on Disability (NOD): the 2010 Survey of Americans with Disabilities and the 2010 Survey of Employment of Americans with Disabilities. The first survey analyzed the gaps in the lifestyles of individuals with and without disabilities. It found that the largest lifestyle gap is employment-with only 21% of people with disabilities currently employed, as opposed to 59% of those without disabilities. The second survey analyzed why employment is lagging behind for people with disabilities. It discovered that less than 3% of the nation's workforce is comprised of individuals with disabilities, who make up 20% of the U.S. population-by far, the largest minority group.

Elaine Katz, vice president of Grants & Special Initiatives at Kessler Foundation, and Rodger DeRose, president and chief executive officer at Kessler Foundation, published two commentaries in the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, entitled, "The ADA 20 Years Later: The 2010 Survey of Americans with Disabilities" and "A Call to Action: The 2010 Survey of Employment of Americans with Disabilities". Their commentaries highlighted specific findings in each survey and explained what society can do to advance employment for the disability community.