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LEAD Center and CILs Showcase Workforce Pilot at NCIL Conference

August 15, 2013

5 NCIL Conference panel members in a discussion.The LEAD Center and three Centers for Independent Living (CILs) participating in LEAD’s CIL Workforce Pilot highlighted the project and its work at the National Council for Independent Living’s (NCIL) recent national conference in Washington, D.C.

Karen McCulloh, LEAD Center project director, and Alex Kielty, LEAD Center demonstration & innovation team lead, were joined by Kelly Buckland, executive director of NCIL and a member of the LEAD Center Executive Steering Committee, as well as by representatives from three of the five CIL pilot sites for a panel discussion on the project designed to have the CILs work to  increase successful employment and economic advancement outcomes of CIL job seekers with disabilities  through CIL partnerships developed with  local American Job Centers (AJCs).

CIL pilot site presenters represented both metropolitan and rural areas and included:  Dan Kessler, executive director of Disability Rights and Resources in Birmingham, Ala., Sheri Burns, executive director of Community Resources for Independent Living in Hayward, Calif.,  and Tami Hoar, program director of the Montana Independent Living Project (MILP) in Helena, Mont. .

In addition to highlighting the LEAD Center and its mission, the presentation provided an overview of the CIL Workforce Pilot project, the critical role CILs play in employment of people with disabilities, an historical overview of the employment, systemic and work-incentive barriers affecting the employment of people with disabilities and an overview of the upcoming LEAD Center toolkit available to all CILs on improving employment outcomes through the AJCs.

The CIL Workforce Pilot provides coaching and support for job seekers with disabilities on the range of employment and training services available at AJCs and follows job seekers through the process until they reach their employment goals.  CIL staff teach job seekers with disabilities participating in the pilot how to successfully navigate the public workforce system to access employment-related services, resources, assessments to reach their employment and career goals.

The pilot also provides AJC staff with free disability awareness training and tools as well as technical assistance as requested. Promising practices emerging from the pilot will be identified for replication in CILs nationwide to encourage job seekers with disabilities t o seek assistance at local AJCs.

In just a short time, the pilot is yielding successes. As part of the pilot project, each CIL has been requested to work with 10 job seekers.  Since the CIL-AJC partnerships began on June 1, 2013, three job seekers with disabilities have become employed.

As part of the presentation, panelists from the three CILs engaged in a guided question-and-answer (Q&A) discussion regarding their CIL’s involvement with the project and the experience and outcomes thus far, followed by audience Q&A.

For more information on the CIL demonstration project, visit the project page or contact current LEAD Center Project Director Rebecca Salon at