Kessler Foundation Grants $450,000 to Launch Easterseals Disability Staffing Network

The two-year grant aims to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities in the Greater Washington Baltimore Region

East Hanover, NJ –January 29, 2018 – Kessler Foundation has awarded a second Signature Employment Grant to Easter Seals Serving DC|MD|VA to launch Easterseals Disability Staffing Network (EDSN, pronounced “Edison”) – a social venture employment agency that will match individuals with disabilities to private sector employers throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia. The grant is part of $2.3 million awarded by Kessler Foundation last year to organizations across the U.S. to support initiatives that create and expand job training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

EDSN will enable individuals with disabilities to pursue self-defined career paths and obtain meaningful, lasting employment. Jobseekers with disabilities will be recruited through EDSN partnerships with regional employers, vocational rehabilitation services, and transition programs. Qualified candidates will then meet with Easter Seals’ career coaches—working in collaboration with their originating agency's job coaches—to prepare for interviews and employment.

In 2015, Kessler Foundation awarded the first Signature Grant to Easter Seals Serving DC|MD|VA to expand its Veteran Staffing Network (VSN)—a social enterprise employment agency that helps veterans and their spouses with and without disabilities obtain employment. The VSN model will be adapted and implemented by EDSN to specifically address employment for people with disabilities.

“VSN surpassed its goals in attaining an estimated $4.6 million in economic impact, and placing more than 240 veterans with disabilities and their spouses in permanent, career-track jobs,” explained Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, senior vice president of grants and communications at Kessler Foundation. “Adapting the VSN model to address the employment needs of individuals with disabilities is an innovative and sustainable approach to improving job opportunities for this talented group. We are proud to support an organization that brings novel ideas and resources into the field of disability employment.”

Services provided by EDSN will include job search coaching via an e-learning system, counseling, résumé readiness, interview skills, networking strategies, and job placement. On the employer end, EDSN will serve as a one-stop partner for recruiting people with disabilities, modify employers’ interview methods to ensure candidates' strengths and abilities are recognized, and provide disability awareness training. EDSN will work directly with provider agencies to optimize on-site job supports.

“This funding from Kessler Foundation will allow Easter Seals Serving DC|MD|VA to launch EDSN, an innovative social venture that will provide a crucial link between corporations wanting to hire individuals with disabilities and the provider agencies serving those people,” said Larry Bram, senior vice president for Innovation at Easter Seals. “The purpose is to establish a sustainable and scalable pipeline of talent for good jobs across the region.”

Over the two-year grant period, EDSN intends to provide job coaching via an e-learning system for 600 candidates, securing 150 jobs for people with disabilities. EDSN also aims to increase the number of companies willing to hire people with disabilities, while improving the ability of local vocational rehabilitation services and supported employment agencies to secure successful, person-centered employment for clients.

Apply Now

Kessler Foundation is accepting applications now for its 2018 grant programs. To learn more and to apply, please visit our website. Signature Employment Grant applications must be submitted by February 18th, and Community Employment Grant applications are due by April 9th.

About Easter Seals Serving DC|MD|VA

Easter Seals Serving DC|MD|VA is the affiliate serving Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia. For nearly 100 years, Easter Seals has been at the forefront of providing exceptional services to ensure that all people with disabilities or special needs, military, veterans, and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work, and play in our community.  Our community-based programs are designed to support and strengthen families, enrich the lives of individuals with disabilities, create stronger communities, and reduce system-wide health care costs. 

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; [email protected]

Laura Viglione, MS; 973-323-3675; [email protected]

For more information, contact:
Deb Hauss, senior staff writer, 973.324.8372, [email protected]
Carolann Murphy, senior medical writer, [email protected]

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