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Merging Diversity and Disability Into Business Opportunity

An inclusive workforce boosts the bottom line. As a small business owner, you could be a catalyst within your community — leading the effort to develop a culture welcoming of individuals with different experiences and attributes and enabling economic success through employment for all individuals in our increasingly diverse America.

At the Add Us In National Diversity Forum on August 4th, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced the availability of approximately $1.6 million in funding to develop strategies to increase employment opportunities within the small business community for individuals with disabilities. Add Us In is an initiative of U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

The new Add Us In grants will be awarded to up to three consortia having representation from each of the following four organizational types: 1) an association of targeted businesses, a business association located in a target population community, or other similar entity; 2) a disability-serving organization; 3) a local workforce investment board or other organization with demonstrated experience in providing training and employment-related support services, such as a One-Stop Career Center; and 4) a youth-serving organization.

Targeted businesses and populations include those located in or serving underrepresented and historically excluded communities, including those owned and operated by ethnic and racial minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals; veterans; women; and people with disabilities.

"The Labor Department is committed to ensuring that every American who wants a job can find one, including people with disabilities. The Add Us In initiative will help businesses develop strategies to provide a broader range of employment opportunities for this underutilized group of workers," said Secretary Solis.

Small businesses can learn more about how they can partner to apply for the Add Us In grants — and about the value of a workplace inclusive of people with disabilities — by visiting Add Us In on the ODEP website.

For additional news and resources, sign up for ODEP's e-mail updates.