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$14.8M in grants announced by US Labor Department
to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced $14,837,785 in grants to six states to improve employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities. The grants to California, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota and South Dakota are being awarded as part of the Disability Employment Initiative, funded by the department's Employment and Training Administration and Office of Disability Employment Policy.
"Breaking down barriers to employment for people with disabilities is important in order for our country to field a full team and ensure that no worker is left behind," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "The federal grants we're awarding today will help open many more doors to opportunities, providing people with disabilities with skills they need to achieve economic self-sufficiency."
These grants will help expand the capacity of local American Job Centers to improve employment outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities by increasing their participation in existing career pathway systems and programs that build on partnerships among local educational institutions, businesses and disability advocates.
This is the fifth round of funding through the Disability Employment Initiative, which now supports 37 projects in 26 states.
Grantees will use the funds to:
- hire or designate a Disability Resource Coordinator, an expert in workforce and disability issues, to achieve program goals;
- foster partnerships and collaboration at the state and local levels;
- integrate resources and services; and
- ensure that local American Job Centers comply with physical, programmatic and communications accessibility requirements.
This initiative also 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 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 the workforce system's capacity to serve these groups.
These grants align closely with the Obama administration's job-driven training principles by requiring multiple workforce and disability service providers, educational institutions and businesses in each state to collaborate extensively with each other.
For more information about the department's Disability Employment Initiative, visit http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/DEI.htm. Information about the Social Security Administration's Ticket to Work Program can be found at http://www.ssa.gov/work/.
Editor's Note: A chart listing the states receiving awards and grant amounts follows this release.