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News Release

More than $18.5 million in Disability Employment Initiative grants awarded by US Labor Department to eight states

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced grants totaling $18,597,758 to eight states to provide education, training and employment opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities. The grants are part of the Disability Employment Initiative, a program jointly funded and administered by the department's Employment and Training Administration and Office of Disability Employment Policy.

"To thrive in the competitive international marketplace, employers need access to a diverse pool of qualified job seekers," said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "These federal grants expand that pool and show our commitment to creating career pathways and employment opportunities that result in economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities."

This is the fourth round of the Disability Employment Initiative, which currently supports 23 projects. Three new states — Alabama, Connecticut and Idaho — are being awarded in this round, while the remaining five states — Alaska, Illinois, Maine, New York and Virginia — are receiving additional funding to expand and replicate the best practices they developed using DEI funds beginning as recipients in the first round of the program.

The DEI-funded projects are required to: 1) hire/designate a Disability Resource Coordinator, with disability and workforce expertise, who will work at the local workforce investment board level; 2) verify American Job Center compliance with physical, programmatic and communications accessibility; 3) participate in Social Security's Ticket to Work Program as active Employment Networks (i.e., assign a Ticket); and 5) participate in rigorous evaluation of the DEI program.

"This funding will provide a range of training and employment services to people with disabilities, and it expands the capacity of the public workforce system to serve them," said Eric M. Seleznow, acting assistant secretary of labor for employment and training.

All projects under this initiative build upon previous department initiatives, such as hiring staff with expertise in disability and workforce issues. The grants support extensive partnerships and collaboration across multiple workforce and disability service systems in each state, including: vocational rehabilitation, mental health, intellectual/developmental disability agencies, independent living centers, business leadership networks, and other community and nonprofit organizations.

"Access to quality employment and training services is vital to getting youth and adults with disabilities into the workforce and putting them on a career path to good jobs in high-growth, high-demand industries," said Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy.

The Disability Employment Initiative expands the public workforce system's participation in the Social Security Administration's Ticket to Work Program by requiring participating state workforce agencies or local workforce investment boards to become active Employment Networks. Many Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries use the mainstream workforce system to seek employment opportunities. By serving as Employment Networks, grantees will build upon American Job Center network's capacity to serve Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities.

For more information about the department's Disability Employment Initiative, please visit Information about the Social Security Administration's Ticket to Work Program can be found at Additional guidance about Employment Networks can be found at

Editor's note: A chart listing the grant recipients can be found below.


Round I Grantee or New Grantee

Award Amount

Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs

New Grantee


Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development

Round I Grantee


Connecticut Department of Labor

New Grantee


Idaho Department of Labor

New Grantee


Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Round I Grantee


Maine Department of Labor

Round I Grantee


New York State Department of Labor

Round I Grantee


Virginia Community College System

Round I Grantee




Employment and Training Administration
September 26, 2013
Release Number
Media Contact: Bennett Gamble