WASHINGTON — Americans with disabilities face many obstacles in life, including those that make their search for employment difficult. To help remove some of these impediments, the U.S. Department of Labor is working to increase the ability of federal job training programs to serve youth and adults with disabilities through better collaboration and new partnerships at state and local levels.
The department today announced the availability of approximately $15 million in grants through the Disability Employment Initiative to state workforce agencies to develop flexible and innovative strategies to increase the participation of people with disabilities in federally funded education and training programs.
"People with disabilities have enormous contributions to make to our economy and our society, but they remain disproportionately represented among our nation's unemployed," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "We are working to change that by providing more training options that prepare these workers for good jobs. These grants will help build strong ladders of opportunity to the middle-class for these workers."
The grants are the sixth round of funding through the Disability Employment Initiative, a joint program of the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration and the Office of Disability Employment Policy.
Since 2010, the department has awarded grants worth more than $95 million through the DEI to 37 state workforce agencies in 26 states to improve education, training, and employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities. The funds are used to refine and expand workforce strategies proven to be successful, and enhance inclusive service delivery through the public workforce system. Improvements include: increasing the accessibility of American Job Centers; training front-line AJC and partner staff; and increasing partnerships and collaboration across numerous systems that are critical for assisting youth and adults with disabilities in securing meaningful employment.
The 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.
The department anticipates awarding eight grants — ranging from $1.5 to $2.5 million — to be spent in a 42-month period. Funding will be provided to at least one project for each of the following three target populations: adults with disabilities (ages 18 and older); youth with disabilities (ages 14-24); and individuals with significant disabilities (ages 14 and older).
Workforce agencies interested in applying for this funding should visit http://www.grants.gov. The deadline to apply is June 11, 2015.