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News Release

US Labor Department awards more than $21 million in Disability Employment Initiative cooperative agreements to 9 states

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced an award of $21,276,575 to nine states under the Disability Employment Initiative to improve education, training, and employment opportunities and outcomes of youth and adults who are unemployed and/or receiving Social Security disability benefits. The Disability Employment Initiative is jointly funded and administered by the department's Employment and Training Administration and its Office of Disability Employment Policy.

"During these difficult economic times, we want to make it possible for all workers, especially those with disabilities, to benefit from the Labor Department's employment and retraining services that have a proven success rate," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Through this new grant, individuals with disabilities will be able to utilize the necessary tools to obtain permanent and secure jobs."

The Labor Department has entered into cooperative agreements with the following states to implement strategic approaches to support exemplary employment services for individuals with disabilities in the public workforce system: Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, New Jersey, New York and Virginia. These projects build upon the department's Disability Program Navigator Initiative by hiring staff with expertise in disability and workforce issues. The grants also will support extensive partnerships, collaboration and services provided across multiple workforce and disability systems in each state. These involve state vocational rehabilitation services, mental health and developmental disability agencies, Medicaid Infrastructure Grant-supported activities, independent living centers, business leadership networks, and other community and nonprofit provider organizations.

Another critical component of the Disability Employment Initiative is expanding the workforce system's involvement with the Social Security Administration's Ticket to Work program. The Disability Employment Initiative requires a state workforce agency or local workforce investment boards participating in a cooperative agreement to become employment networks under the Ticket to Work Program. The department recognizes that many Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries utilize the mainstream workforce system to seek employment opportunities, as shown in the May 2010 Mathematica Policy Research Inc. report "Use of One-Stops by Social Security Disability Beneficiaries in Four States Implementing Disability Program Navigator Initiatives," which is available at

The department considers individuals with the most significant disabilities to be a major priority, with grant resources focused on their entry or return to work. States will be working closely with the Social Security Administration's Work Incentive Planning and Assistance Program and its Community Work Incentive Coordinators to conduct outreach and coordination to expand services to beneficiaries.

Editor's note: A chart listing the grant recipients follows this release.

Grant Recipients

Disability Employment Initiative Grants


State of Alaska, Department of Labor and Workforce Development


State of Arkansas Department of Workforce Services


Delaware Department of Labor, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation


Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity


Kansas Department of Commerce


State of Maine Department of Labor


New Jersey Department of Labor, Workforce Division


New York State Department of Labor


Virginia Community College System


Employment and Training Administration
September 29, 2010
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