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$12.6 Million in Grants Awarded to Help Improve Outcomes of Individuals with Disabilities in Vocational Rehabilitation and Workforce Development

October 9, 2015
Source: U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Educations Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) today announced more than $12.6 million in grants in multiple project areas to help improve the outcomes of individuals with disabilities—from cradle through career. The investments are aimed at promoting inclusion, equity and opportunity for individuals with disabilities to help ensure their economic self-sufficiency, independent living and full community participation.

"We want all individuals with disabilities to have opportunities and succeed," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These are part of our commitment to ensuring all students – no matter their zip code, family income or disability – have a chance to be successful in college, careers and life.”

The $12.6 million in grants from OSERS Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) includes the following:

  • The Older Individuals Who Are Blind (OIB) Training and Technical Assistance (TA) Center is to provide sustained training and technical assistance (TA) to designated state agencies (DSAs) funded under the OIB program and any service providers the DSAs fund to provide services directly to consumers. Individuals who are blind, who are 55 years of age or older, utilize these services to increase their independence and self-sufficiency when employment due to their impairment is extremely difficult to attain. This OIB TA Center will be located at Mississippi State University.
  • The American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services (AIVRS) Training and Technical Assistance (TA) Center will provide training and TA to governing bodies of Indian tribes that have received AIVRS grants. With the new reservation of funds set into law under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the TA training for AIVRS staff and specialists will span various areas from knowledge of applicable laws and regulations to data collection and reporting. This AIVRS TA Center will be housed at ABOR for Northern Arizona University.
  • The Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities projects will address the dual issue of employers being able to find employees with necessary skillsets and people with disabilities being unable to find employment. These projects are located at the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, the Nebraska Department of Education, Division of Rehabilitation Services, the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, and the Kentucky Office for the Blind, Department of Workforce Development.
  • The Technical Assistance Center for Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Program Evaluation and Quality Assurance (PEQA) is to develop new types of training programs for rehabilitation personnel to improve the effective delivery of services. The TA Center for PEQA will be located at the University of Wisconsin — Stout.
  • The Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Targeted Communities (VRTAC-TC) is to provide TA and training to upgrade and increase the competency, skills, and knowledge of vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors and other professionals to assist economically disadvantaged individuals with disabilities to achieve competitive integrated employment outcomes. The VRTAC-TC will be located at Southern University and A&M College.
  • The Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WITAC) is to provide training and TA to state VR agencies to improve services for individuals with disabilities, including those with the most significant disabilities. The WITAC will be located at San Diego State University Research Foundation.
  • The Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center—Youth with Disabilities (VRTAC-Y) is to provide training and TA to state VR agencies to assist in identifying and serving students and youth with disabilities, designing and implementing collaborative and integrative approaches to serving this population, and expanding the coordination of services. This TA Center would greatly assist youth with disabilities who are dropouts, exiting foster care or juvenile offenders, who do not have the adequate resources, supports and knowledge to make the successful transition into adulthood. The VRTAC-Y will be located at the Institute for Educational Leadership, Inc.

The grants are being funded under the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

[Note: Grants awarded to states in the Southeast region are listed below. See DOE/OSERS press release for a complete list.]

[Program:] Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who Are blind (OIB) Training and Technical Assistance. 84.177Z --
State: Mississippi; City: Mississippi State; Recipients: Mississippi State University; FY 2015 Amount: $598,506

[Program:] Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities. 84.235N
State: Georgia; City: Atlanta; Recipients Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency; FY 2015 Amount: $873,877
State: Kentucky; City: Frankfort; Recipients: Kentucky Office for the Blind, Department of Workforce Development; FY 2015 Amount: $875,000

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