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Kessler Foundation Grants $425,000 to Advocacy Center of Louisiana

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Submitted by nmiller on Tue, 04/02/2019 - 11:40

This two-year Signature Employment Grant aims to increase employment of formerly incarcerated individuals with disabilities

EAST HANOVER, NJ – March 25, 2019 – Kessler Foundation has awarded a two-year, $425,000 Signature Employment Grant to 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.

The grant is part of $2.5 million in grants awarded by Kessler Foundation in 2018 to organizations across the U.S. to support initiatives that create and expand job training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The formation of FAIR was prompted by a confluence of factors creating a sharp increase in the numbers of formerly incarcerated people seeking work – the high rate of incarceration in Louisiana and recent action taken by the state to reduce the prison population by 10%. Approximately one third of formerly incarcerated people have disabilities, which compounds the challenges for job placements and retention. This growing population faces chronically low rates of employment and high rates of recidivism, and stress the availability of affordable housing.  FAIR comprises a coherent strategy for addressing these urgent needs.

Through state and national collaborations, FAIR will provide comprehensive services to meet the complex needs of a population at high risk for poverty and recidivism. Efforts will focus on Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, which have high rates of unemployment, and large numbers of formerly incarcerated people. FAIR is the only re-entry program in LA focused on offering formerly incarcerated people with disabilities training in managing their personal finances and dedicated case managers with expertise in connecting individuals with benefits, in addition to job placement services.

To provide the comprehensive supports needed, FAIR will collaborate with Louisiana Rehabilitation Services, National Disability Institute, National Alliance for Mental Illness, and the Justice and Accountability Center. “Improved employment outcomes are achieved by incorporating wrap around services like financial services, transportation, and benefit planning,” explained Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, senior vice president of grants and communications at Kessler Foundation. “We are confident that FAIR will succeed in engaging high-risk individuals with the help they need to contribute their talents to our local economy, while supporting themselves and their families.”

Over the next two years, FAIR plans to serve 160 formerly incarcerated individuals with disabilities, where they will have case management support throughout their employment search and will learn the basics of budgeting, banking, establishing credit, reducing debt, increasing savings, applying for benefits, filing taxes, and monitoring credit scores. According to Libby Whiteside, FAIR Program Director of the Advocacy Center, “We are confident that our strategy will encourage participants through financial goal setting, and will empower them with the support and tools they need to navigate a job search, maintain employment, and use their earnings to achieve financial security. Our goal is to expand this concept by motivating disability employment service providers to incorporate FAIR strategies into their service delivery models.”

About the Advocacy Center of Louisiana

The Advocacy Center of Louisiana protects, empowers, and advocates for the human and legal rights of people with disabilities and seniors living in Louisiana, in order that they may live an integrated life in the community, free from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

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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Carolann Murphy, PA; 973-324-8382;

Rob Gerth; 973-323-3675;