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Kessler Foundation Awards $2.5 Million in 2018 to Support Initiatives that Expand Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities Across the U.S.

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Submitted by nmiller on Tue, 04/02/2019 - 12:05

East Hanover, NJ – March 26, 2019 – Kessler Foundation has awarded approximately $2.5 million in 2018 in grants to organizations across the U.S. to support initiatives that create or expand job training and employment initiatives for people with disabilities. Since 2000, the Foundation’s distribution of more than $43 million has led to improved job skills and paid employment for thousands of individuals with disabilities.

“Through these grants, the Foundation aims to bring awareness to the diverse and often overlooked talent pool that is individuals with disabilities,” said Rodger DeRose, president and chief executive officer of Kessler Foundation. “Finding and retaining skilled employees is a challenge for many companies today. Our National Employment and Disability Survey, Supervisor Perspectives, however, found that many companies are underutilizing recruitment practices that can help them achieve their hiring goals. These grants support model initiatives that help pave new directions for increasing inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace.”

Signature Employment Grants

More than $1.3 million dollars in Signature Employment Grants—the Foundation's largest grants—have been distributed to launch four initiatives with projects in eight states. Signature Grants range from $175,000 to $500,000 over a two-year period. These awards support pilot initiatives, demonstration projects, or social ventures that lead to the generation of new ideas to increase employment among people with disabilities. Here’s a summary of the recently awarded Signature Employment Grants:

  • Advocacy Center of Louisiana received a $425,000 Advocacy Center of Louisiana to improve employment outcomes and reduce recidivism rates of formerly incarcerated Louisianans with disabilities. The FAIR (Financial Access Inclusion and Resources) project is a scalable and innovative project providing financial coaching and case management services to improve employment outcomes of formerly incarcerated Louisianans with disabilities.
  • Lester and Rosalie Anixter Center in Chicago will use its $400,000 grant to produce long-term change in healthcare and disability services systems. Their Inclusive Pathways Chicago: Healthcare is a demonstration project designed to assist healthcare workforce employers and their nonprofit partners in implementing equity, diversity, and inclusion strategies that will result in reducing barriers to employment for people with disabilities, especially those with previous justice system involvement.
  • Arc of the United States in Washington, DC received a $175,000 grant to pilot JusticeWorks, a new pathway to employment for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The program will combine an internship program for the young people at first responder agencies (fire, police, EMS, etc.) with comprehensive disability awareness training and support for first responders.
  • Cornell University’s Yang-Tan Institute will use its $350,000 grant to support Combat to Careers (C2C) which will assist 125 veteran students with disabilities at the State University of New York Oswego and East Central Community College in obtaining full- or part-time employment through apprenticeships with special emphasis on meeting the particular needs of female veterans.

“People living with disabilities are striving to work,” explained Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, senior vice president for grants and communications at Kessler Foundation. “Our research indicates over 68% are currently working, looking for work, or have worked since the onset of their disability.”

Community Employment Grants

Community Employment Grants advance job training and employment opportunities for New Jersey residents with disabilities. The Foundation has distributed awards totaling $480,000 to 13 programs in 2018. These programs focus mainly on high school through young adults living with a physical or mental disability including autism, paralysis, and behavioral, and emotional and intellectual challenges. Initiatives include hands-on environmental science education, utilizing assistive technology, and vocational job training. Community Grants range from $25,000 to $50,000 over two years.

Special Initiative Grants

Special Initiative Grants support a variety of efforts in New Jersey to improve the lives of people with disabilities. The Foundation has distributed $130,000 to 11 programs. Initiatives include programs for training artists, equipment and coaching for volleyball, archery and kayak travel for people living with a spinal cord injury, film making, fishing, and assisting participants in starting their own businesses, to name a few. Special Initiative Grant applications are by invitation only, and the awards range from $5,000 to $20,000 for a period of one year.

Apply Now

Kessler Foundation is accepting applications now for its 2019 grant programs. To learn more and to apply, please visit our website. Community Employment Grant applications are due by April 8th.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes--including employment--for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

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