press releases

Kessler Foundation Grants $450,000 to the State University of Iowa, Center for Disabilities and Development

Kessler Foundation Press Release

The two-year grant aims to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities in the Midwest

EAST HANOVER, NJ – January 29, 2018 – Kessler Foundation has awarded a two-year, $450,000 Signature Employment Grant to the State University of Iowa, Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD) to launch the Midwest Disability Employment Consortium: Just in Time Employment Supports – a collaborative initiative that aims to increase supported employment service capacity and efficiencies in the Midwest. The grant is part of $2.3 million awarded 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.

The Midwest Disability Employment Consortium will comprise the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The Consortium will launch pilot projects in each state that focus on the use of virtual technology platforms, such as the iPad, to address state-specific concerns. Each partner will provide “Just in Time” employment supports and services, including follow-along job coaching and virtual job placement, to workers with disabilities, job coaches, and employers in both rural and urban areas.

“Each of these priority states share common concerns for balancing the needs of rural communities, where access to job coaching and behavioral supports is challenging, with urban centers, where caseloads are extremely large,” explained Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, senior vice president of grants and communications at Kessler Foundation. “The Consortium aims to address these concerns, as well as other barriers to employment for people with disabilities in the Midwest, through the innovative use of readily available virtual technology platforms. We look forward to assessing the large-scale outcomes generated by this multifaceted approach.”

The Iowa UCEDD, the CCD, intends to implement a pilot project that focuses on the use of iPad and telehealth technologies to provide long-term employment supports and crisis intervention services in the workplace. The Nebraska UCEDD, the Munroe-Meyer Institute, plans to implement a pilot study involving working-age individuals with intellectual disabilities who are seeking or have obtained employment. Telehealth technology will be used to deliver technical assistance and provide strategies and solutions to job coaches and employers in-real-time. The South Dakota UCEDD, the Center for Disabilities, will develop and implement a pilot program focused on the use of virtual technology platforms with vocational staff serving rural, urban, and Native communities. Technical assistance will be provided for job coaches during training, fading, and follow-along services to provide support and opportunities to enhance their knowledge, skills, and creating problem-solving.

“The University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota have joined together around the shared goal of fostering collaboration in support of improved employment outcomes for people with disabilities in the Midwest,” remarked Julie J. Christensen, LMSW, PhD, director of Iowa’s UCEDD. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to partner with Kessler Foundation on this project, which represents a unique opportunity to take a multi-lens and multi-state approach to exploring innovative solutions for expanding access to long-term services and supports for people with disabilities to succeed in the workplace. This project aims to pilot new approaches to support direct care staff, workers and businesses through the use of available and accessible technologies.”


The Consortium plans to place 94 people with disabilities into competitive, long-term employment by the end of the two-year grant period. The Consortium expects to serve as a disability employment think tank, as well as a demonstration, evaluation, and policy advisor hub, housing best practice data uniquely suited to meet the needs of people with disabilities in the midwestern states.


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 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;

Laura Viglione, MS; 973-323-3675;

Submitted by lviglione on Mon, 01/29/2018 - 09:58