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Kessler Foundation Trustees Approve $1,933,835 in Grants

Kessler Foundation approved an allocation of $1,933,835 through its Transition to Work initiative. Earlier this year, the Foundation awarded $423,742 to benefit grant programs that increase employme

December 17, 2009. WEST ORANGE, NJ – The Board of Trustees of Kessler Foundation has approved a grant allocation of $1,933,835 to benefit people with physical disabilities through Kessler's "Transition to Work" initiative. Earlier this year, the Foundation awarded $423,742 in grants to benefit grant programs that increase employment opportunities for this underserved population. The total amount awarded for employment initiatives during 2009 was $2,357,577.

"This year has been a challenging one for people with disabilities trying to seek employment," said Elaine Katz, Vice President of Grants and Special Initiatives. "Even though we are approaching the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), only one-third of people with disabilities work," she noted, "while the vast majority says they would if they had the opportunity." Kessler Foundation awards grants to organizations that work toward improving employment and career advancement, helping fulfill the Foundation's mission to improve quality of life for people with physical disabilities through discovery, innovation, demonstration, application, and dissemination. Selection of grant recipients is based on extent of public impact and the proven success of their programs.

Close to $1.5 million was awarded to three major Signature Employment programs, which will fund new high impact projects that use new and creative ways to increase employment. Local community organizations received approximately $694,507 through Community Employment grants to create job opportunities and training. Special Initiative grants of $165,173 funded arts, recreation and technology programs for people with disabilities.

In this time of even greater need, the pinch is being felt as donations wither and the government cuts back. Recognizing the stresses on community agencies, Kessler Foundation provided much needed support, reported Katz: "Our emergency grant awards provided $158,354 in operational funds to help organizations maintain their current staffing levels in programs supporting disability recruitment, placement, retention and advancement that benefit people disabled by accidents, injuries or disease".

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation strives to be a leader in rehabilitation research and grantmaking that benefit people with disabilities. The Foundation's mission is to improve quality of life for people with disabilities through discovery, innovation, demonstration, application, and dissemination. Kessler Foundation Research Center conducts research that improves function and quality of life for persons with injuries of the spinal cord and brain, stroke, multiple sclerosis and other chronic neurological and orthopedic conditions. Kessler Foundation also supports programs that promote the employment of people with disabilities through its Program Center's "Transition to Work" Signature and Community Employment Grants. The Foundation's Special Initiative Grants support educational programs like 'ThinkFirst', an injury prevention program aimed at children and teens. Kessler Foundation has a full-time staff of 90 individuals, divided between two locations in West Orange, New Jersey.

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National Disability Institute, (Washington, DC) – To pilot and test a two-year employment and career advancement model in credit unions that expand employment opportunities for New Jersey residents with physical and other significant disabilities: $497,897.

National Organization on Disability, (New York NY) – To fund two Harris Interactive polls updating information on quality of life for Americans with Disabilities and Employment of People with Disabilities: $500,000.

Northwest New Jersey Community Action, Inc., (Phillipsburg, NJ) – To replicate "Arthur & Friends" hydroponic farming pilot project for people with disabilities at two new sites in New Jersey: $500,000.


Artistic Realization Technologies, Inc., (Belle Meade, NJ) - To provide emergency operating funds to maintain New Jersey programs: $50,000.

Arts Unbound, (Orange, NJ) – To provide emergency funds for general operating support: $45,804.

Cerebral Palsy Association of Middlesex County, (Edison, NJ) – To fund the AmeriCorps Enhancement Project enabling people with disabilities to participate in the AmeriCorps volunteer program as members: $50,000.

Cheshire Home, (Florham Park, NJ) – To provide specialized vocational and educational training to residents and community students with physical disabilities using computers and adaptive technology: $34,000.

DAWN Center for Independent Living, Inc. (Denville, NJ) – To create a new program manager staff position: $48,000.

Employment Horizons, Inc. (Cedar Knolls, NJ) – To implement and assess a work-based learning model for transitioning education students to employment: $36,765.

The Family Resource Network, (Trenton, NJ) – To fund "Getting to Work" a program placing people with physical and mobility disabilities into jobs and provide 90 day follow-up services: $48,440.

Jewish Family & Vocational Service of Middlesex County, (Milltown, NJ) – To provide supported employment services for students and adults with traumatic brain injuries, including pre-placement activities, job coaching, and long-term follow along services: $45,000.

New Jersey Theatre Alliance, (West Orange, NJ) – To present three free regional workshops for artists with disabilities who are interest in careers as arts administrators and technicians: $30,000.

New York Service for the Handicapped, (Ne