ODEP - Office of Disability Employment Policy
Disability Employment Policy Resources by Topic
Self-Employment & Entrepreneurship
Self-employment has long been an option for individuals seeking a new or better career. And today, many individuals with disabilities are turning to the flexibility self-employment offers in assisting them to meet both professional and financial goals. Starting one's own business can offer similar flexibility, allowing people to make a living while maintaining a lot of latitude in choices such as work hours, nature of tasks and income. As a result, ODEP encourages and supports self-employment and entrepreneurship among individuals with disabilities and has helped foster an array of partnerships at the Federal, state and local levels to encourage access to funding and resources to assist individuals with disabilities interested in these alternatives to traditional employment.
The following resources provide more information about self-employment and entrepreneurship:
- START-UP ODEP initiated START-UP, a three year grant project, in 2007 to identify policies and practices then in place that either made it difficult for individuals with disabilities to become self-employed or supported them in becoming self-employed. As part of the initiative, three states (Alaska, Florida and New York) were awarded grants to pilot new innovative models for assisting individuals with disabilities to start businesses. A fourth grant established a national technical assistance center, Self-Employment Technical Assistance, Resources, & Training (START-UP/USA), to provide information and guidance about promoting self-employment for disabilities to the state grantees, as well as serving as a national resource for individuals and agencies wanting to pursue self-employment goals for people with disabilities.
- Self-Employment for People with Disabilities is the final report of the START-UP initiative. It describes the barriers experienced by the four grantees, the self-employment models tested, the achievements of the grant programs and case studies of several individuals with disabilities who successfully became self-employed. The report also makes recommendations for adoption by agencies and individuals for realizing self-employment goals.
- START-UP/USA is the Web site for START-UP/USA, the national START-UP technical assistance center. The site contains valuable information for individuals interested in becoming self-employed and the agencies that serve them, but personal and agency specific guidance is no longer available.
- An Analysis of Self-Employment Outcomes within the Federal/State Vocational Rehabilitation System A report by START-UP/USA that explores the extent to which self-employment is occurring as an employment outcome within the national vocational rehabilitation system.
- Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Launch Nearly 50 Businesses in Central New York An article about successful outcomes of the ODEP-supported START-UP NY grant.
- Customized Employment Five-year initiative implemented by ODEP in 2001 that continues to promote customized employment, which may include self-employment and entrepreneurship, as a flexible work arrangement. Highlights of particular projects providing self-employment assistance to individuals with disabilities include:
- Enhancing Self-employment Options for People with Disabilities: Indianapolis, IN
- Funding Self-Employment: Cobb County, GA
- Self-Employment: Montana
- Self-Employment: Sample Forms and Guidelines
- Georgia Workforce Action Grant: Jobs for All: An Olmstead Initiative
- Indiana Customized Employment Project Program
- Easter Seals Central Alabama ACE Micro-Enterprise Program
- Self-Employment and Microenterprise: A Customized Employment Option
- Entrepreneurship Resources Information about self-employment and starting a business from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a free service of ODEP.
- Project GATE (Growing America Through Entrepreneurship) Joint initiative between DOL's Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and SBA that helps entrepreneurs in rural and urban areas achieve their aspirations to own a business.
- Small Business Administration (SBA) Federal agency that provides assistance to current and prospective small business owners.
- Assets for Independence (AFI) Program U.S. Department of Health and Human Services program that enables community-based nonprofits and government agencies to implement and demonstrate an assets-based approach for giving low-income families a hand up out of poverty; programs may include training on starting a business.
- Road to Self-Sufficiency: A Guide to Entrepreneurship for Youth with Disabilities ODEP-funded guide that shows how entrepreneurship education can be implemented and offers suggestions on how to introduce self-employment as an option for all youth, including youth with disabilities.
- Encouraging Future Innovation: Youth Entrepreneurship Education Fact sheet describing benefits of entrepreneurship as a career option for young people with disabilities.
- Mind Your Own Business Website created by SBA and Junior Achievement to introduce youth to entrepreneurial concepts and resources.