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Two Exciting Grant Opportunities to Promote Employment for Youth and Adults with Disabilities through Partnerships and Collaborations

June 30, 2016

Disability Employment Initiative

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced the availability of grant funds for its seventh round of funding for the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) program. DEI is a joint program of DOL’s Employment and Training Administration and the Office of Disability Employment Policy.

DOL plans to fund eight projects with grants ranging from $1.5 to $2.5 million each for projects that are designed to increase the participation of youth and adults with disabilities in Federally-funded education and training programs. This funding is available to state workforce agencies. As noted in the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), the program’s purpose is to expand the capacity of American Job Centers (AJCs), also known as One-Stop Centers, to improve the employment outcomes of three population focus areas: 1) adults (ages 18 and older) with visible and non-visible disabilities, including those who have acquired disabilities in adulthood; 2) youth (ages 14-24) with visible and non-visible disabilities, including those who have chronic health conditions; and 3) individuals (ages 14 and older) with significant disabilities.

Unique to this funding opportunity, the DEI initiative focuses on increasing the capacity of AJCs and their partners through participation in career pathways systems, strengthening partnerships between the public workforce system and vocational rehabilitation, community colleges and other education, human service, and business partners. This focus on career pathways models and approaches will “further equip individuals with disabilities with the skills, competencies, and credentials necessary to help them obtain in-demand jobs, increase earnings, and advance their careers.”

During the past six years, DOL has awarded DEI grants to 43 state workforce agencies in 27 states, all designed to improve education, training, and employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities. DEI projects use flexible strategies to increase partnerships and collaboration; train AJC staff and their partners; and increase the physical and programmatic accessibility of their services.

The deadline to apply is August 1, 2016 at 4 p.m. EDT.

Partnerships in Employment Systems Change

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) in the Administration for Community Living (ACL) announced its intent to fund Partnerships in Employment Systems Change as Projects of National Significance to create employment systems change at the state level to benefit youth and young adults with intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Funds will support projects developed by consortia that collaborate to design and implement statewide model demonstration projects that stimulate and advance systems change focused on expanding competitive employment in integrated settings for youth and young adults with I/DD.

The funding announcement highlights AIDD’s intent to support projects that “focus on systems change to prioritize employment as the first and preferred option for youth and young adults with I/DD…” The agency goes on to state that “AIDD envisions improving post-school outcomes, including economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and the opportunity to live a self-determined life for such youth and young adults, regardless of the intensity of their needs.”

AIDD funded two previous rounds of states, which included Alaska, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. AIDD is planning to fund six additional projects for $200,000-$250,000 a year for five years.

In this third round of funding, AIDD will continue consortia that include State DD Councils, University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Protection and Advocacy systems, State Education Agencies, State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies serving individuals with I/DD, State Developmental Disabilities agencies, and State employment or employment training programs. This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is designed to enhance collaboration across these systems to promote collaborations that increase competitive employment outcomes for youth and young adults with I/DD, and to encourage states to adopt and implement Employment First in their state.

Proposals are due on July 26, 2016 by 11:59 p.m. EDT.