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More Than $18.5 Million in Disability Employment Initiative Grants Awarded by US Labor Department to Eight States

October 1, 2013
Source: U.S. Department of Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced grants totaling $18,597,758 to eight states to provide education, training and employment opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities. The grants are part of the Disability Employment Initiative, a program jointly funded and administered by the department's Employment and Training Administration and Office of Disability Employment Policy.

"To thrive in the competitive international marketplace, employers need access to a diverse pool of qualified job seekers," said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "These federal grants expand that pool and show our commitment to creating career pathways and employment opportunities that result in economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities."

This is the fourth round of the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI), which currently supports 23 projects. Three new states Alabama, Connecticut and Idaho are being awarded in this round, while the remaining five states Alaska, Illinois, Maine, New York and Virginia are receiving additional funding to expand and replicate the best practices they developed using DEI funds beginning as recipients in the first round of the program.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs received $3 million dollars in grants under the Disability Employment Initiative.

The DEI-funded projects are required to: 1) hire/designate a Disability Resource Coordinator, with disability and workforce expertise, who will work at the local workforce investment board level; 2) verify American Job Center compliance with physical, programmatic and communications accessibility; 3) participate in Social Security's Ticket to Work Program as active Employment Networks (i.e., assign a Ticket); and 5) participate in rigorous evaluation of the DEI program.

"This funding will provide a range of training and employment services to people with disabilities, and it expands the capacity of the public workforce system to serve them," said Eric M. Seleznow, acting assistant secretary of labor for employment and training.

All projects under this initiative build upon previous department initiatives, such as hiring staff with expertise in disability and workforce issues. The grants support extensive partnerships and collaboration across multiple workforce and disability service systems in each state, including: vocational rehabilitation, mental health, intellectual/developmental disability agencies, independent living centers, business leadership networks, and other community and nonprofit organizations.

"Access to quality employment and training services is vital to getting youth and adults with disabilities into the workforce and putting them on a career path to good jobs in high-growth, high-demand industries," said Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy.

The Disability Employment Initiative 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 investment 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 American Job Center network's capacity to serve Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities.

For more information about the department's Disability Employment Initiative, please visit Information about the Social Security Administration's Ticket to Work Program can be found at Additional guidance about Employment Networks [PDF 2 pages] can be found at

Editor's note: A chart listing the grant recipients can be found at the end of the original DOL press release.

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