WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of approximately $15 million in grants to state workforce agencies to develop flexible and innovative strategies to increase the participation of people with disabilities in existing career pathways programs in the public workforce system.
These grants represent the fifth 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.
"People with disabilities have enormous contributions to make to our economy, and they are still disproportionately represented among the unemployed," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "These grants will help ensure that these workers have better access to training programs that lead to good jobs and economic self-sufficiency."
The DEI intends to build the public workforce system's capacity to effectively serve youth and adults with disabilities. To date the department has awarded more than $81 million through four rounds of funding to 26 projects that have resulted in significant improvements in the delivery of services to people with disabilities 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.
Through the current competition, the department will build upon these and other successful DEI project strategies to ensure that people with disabilities can access career pathways programs through the AJCs nationwide. The department intends to award at least one grant in each of three population focus areas:
- projects that focus on adults (ages 18 and older) with disabilities;
- projects that focus on youth (ages 14-24) with disabilities; and
- projects that focus on individuals (ages 14 and older) with significant disabilities.
For purposes of this grant application solicitation, individuals with significant disabilities include job seekers who: have physical, sensory, mental, cognitive, intellectual or developmental disabilities; receive Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits; and require significant accommodations, supports and customization of job responsibilities in order to obtain and maintain integrated employment at or above minimum wage.
The department anticipates awarding eight grants, ranging from $1.5 to $2.5 million, to be spent over a 42-month period. Workforce agencies interested in applying for this funding (SGA/DFA PY 13-11) should visit http://www.grants.gov. The deadline to apply is July 8, 2014.