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Kessler Foundation Grants $401K to Develop and Implement a Healthcare Workforce Inclusion Model for People with Disabilities in St. Louis

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WEST ORANGE, N.J. January 7, 2016—Kessler Foundation awarded a two-year, $400,762 grant to the Mercy Health Foundation to develop and implement a Healthcare Workforce Inclusion Model in St. Louis, Missouri, in an effort to improve employment and economic independence among people with disabilities. The grant is part of $2.3 million distributed by Kessler Foundation to organizations across the U.S. to support initiatives that create and expand job training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Mercy’s Healthcare Workforce Inclusion Model combines awareness, education and inclusiveness training with placing individuals in new or existing job opportunities. The project will engage all employees and build a fully inclusive workplace. Individualized solutions will be implemented to remove barriers and provide accommodations that fit the needs of employees with disabilities. The model will include a Pathway to Employment program, which provides several weeks of job exploration, along with a skills assessment, before an intensive internship in one job that is marketable for future employment.

“Jobseekers with disabilities often have the skills needed to succeed in the workplace, but are met with preconceived employer biases,” said Elaine E. Katz, senior vice president of Grants and Communications at Kessler Foundation. “When individuals with disabilities are employed, they have a better quality of life, gain financial self-sufficiency, pay taxes and lessen their reliance on public benefits. Workplaces also increase their diversity, which leads to creative solutions and enhanced productivity. In this exciting project, Mercy will develop best practices that spark a shift in workplace culture as organizations recognize abilities before disabilities.”

After testing in its St. Louis hospital, Mercy plans to roll out the model across its healthcare system—35 hospitals in four states. The model is also expected to have the ability to be replicated in other healthcare centers across the nation, leading to large numbers of individuals with disabilities finding jobs. Funding will support expenses associated with start-up costs of the Healthcare Workforce Inclusion Model, including equipment, materials, education and staff time.

Mercy Health Foundation will partner with state vocational and community rehabilitation providers to identify applicants and provide on-the-job training support. School districts will also identify students with disabilities who are ready to graduate high school and are interested in Pathway to Employment program. Mercy is part of the Inclusion Coalition for Employment—a collaboration of disability providers, funders, school personnel and parent advocates in the St. Louis region who share best practices, troubleshoot challenges and develop innovative projects to increase employment opportunities.

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 opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit Follow Kessler Foundation on Facebook (, Twitter (@KesslerFdn) and YouTube (

Lauren Scrivo, 973.768.6583,
Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382,

Submitted by lscrivo on Thu, 01/07/2016 - 21:58