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$2.3 million grant from U.S. Department of Labor funds consortium to increase employment, self-sufficiency of Americans with disabilities
Rutgers center to lead research, information, technical assistance and training efforts
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has awarded a two-year grant of $2,306,066 to a consortium of organizations that will establish a center aimed at increasing the employment and economic self-sufficiency of adults with disabilities. The center will build leadership and strategic partnerships across workforce development, economic development, and relevant partner agencies and systems.
"The talents of Americans with disabilities are not fully tapped in our economy. This $2.3 million grant will help advance employment opportunities for workers with disabilities and help them build better lives for themselves and their families," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.
The consortium, led by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in New Brunswick, N.J., will conduct research, develop and disseminate information, and provide technical assistance and training in the following five targeted, critical leadership areas identified by ODEP's research over the past six years. Specific objectives are to increase:
- Partnership and collaboration leveraging resources and funding among and across generic and disability-specific systems that provide employment or employment-support services.
- Self-direction in service and integration of funding among and across generic and disability-specific systems, including the blending and braiding of resources and funding across systems and programs, and the use of self-directed accounts providing choice and control to job seekers.
- Economic self-sufficiency through leveraging relevant generic and disability-specific tax incentives, financial education, social security work incentives, benefits planning and other strategies for enhancing profitable employment, resulting in the ability of people with disabilities to accrue assets and resources.
- Use of universal design as a framework for employment policy and the implementation of employment services.
- Use of customized and other flexible work options for individuals with complex barriers to employment.
In addition to the Rutgers center, consortium members include the American Public Human Services Administration, Washington, D.C.; the National Leadership Consortium for Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del.; the Elizabeth M. Boggs Center for Developmental Disabilities at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Brunswick, N.J.; and the Community Solutions Group LLC in Arlington, Va. The consortium was selected from applications submitted in response to a solicitation by the Labor Department.
ODEP is leading a 21st century federal response to the historic underemployment of people with disabilities. In collaboration with other government agencies, public and private employers, and additional stakeholders, the agency facilitates the development and implementation of innovative policies and practices necessary to achieve a fully inclusive workplace.
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