February 2024 LEAD On! Newsletter

Blending, Braiding, and Sequencing: Strategies for Success

Learn about three ways to leverage resources across partners to create and sustain employment opportunities for people with disabilities.


Blending, Braiding, and Sequencing

To improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities, state and local partners can proactively combine resources in three ways:

  1. Blending: combine dollars from multiple funding streams to create a single “pot” of commingled dollars (like baking a cake).
    Four Arrows pointing down into a funnel
  2. Braiding: use multiple funding streams, separately and at the same time (like making a bracelet).
    multicolored strings forming a braid
  3. Sequencing: use multiple funding streams separately and one after another (like running a relay race).
    Runners passing a baton to each others

Blending, braiding, and sequencing (sometimes referred to as “BBS”) has the power to not only improve employment outcomes for individuals, but also sustain programs.

In this newsletter you will learn about several BBS resources, including:

  • a joint communication signed by nine federal agencies and a frequently asked questions document on BBS,
  • a success story that shows BBS in action, and
  • webinars and other resources about BBS.

Joint Communication and FAQ

With support from the LEAD Center, nine federal agencies issued a joint communication in 2022 called “Resource Leveraging and Service Coordination to Increase Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities.” This federal joint communication, along with an accompanying frequently asked questions (FAQ) document, encourages state and local partners to proactively implement BBS strategies across systems to improve employment outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities.

The FAQ gives definitions for BBS and offers examples of programs and funds that may be blended, braided, and/or sequenced to support competitive integrated employment, including but not limited to:

  • Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waivers,
  • Medicaid State Plan Services,
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Services,
  • Ticket to Work, and
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs.


BBS in Action

In fall 2021, a diverse group gathered in Collinsville, Illinois, to discuss building a program for high school seniors with disabilities to successfully participate in U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeships. The group wove together multiple partners to provide support: the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Registered Apprenticeship, Madison County Employment & Training Administration (ETA), the City of Collinsville, and the Collinsville School District. In a matter of months, the collaboration began its first cohort.

Notably, no specific grant developed this program; instead, stakeholders braided funds together. Secondary Transition Experience Program (STEP) educators wrote and taught the curriculum for the apprentices. The STEP Program receives funding and support from the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) for successful program outcomes. The Regional Office of Education is the liaison between the STEP Program and DRS and assists with outcomes and referrals to adult services. Madison County ETA’s On-the-Job Training program subsidized half of the wages for each apprentice. As the employer/apprenticeship sponsor, the City of Collinsville worked with all stakeholders to develop orientation handbooks. Together, they also built customized strategies for each apprentice.

The five students in the first cohort worked hard to prepare for success, too. In their junior year of high school, students in the STEP program, through the Illinois DRS, explored the different apprenticeship options available with the City of Collinsville, including events support, housekeeping, and landscaping. Starting in the spring, the students toured each track, and, at the end of the school year, the students applied and interviewed for the apprenticeship of their choice. At the start of their senior year, the students began the Registered Apprenticeship for the City of Collinsville, which lasted for one year. Students earned wages from day one, starting at minimum wage with incremental pay increases as they reached competencies.

At the start of the apprenticeship, students received high levels of support that gradually faded as students gained experience and mastered new skills. Family involvement was vital, and monthly meetings with all stakeholders helped the program mature as the students did. Trained frontline staff worked alongside each apprentice, providing support and mentorship.

At the end of each apprenticeship cohort, the team leads select one staff member to be “Mentor of the Year” to receive an award alongside the apprentices obtaining their certificates. So far, out of 10 student apprentices from the first two cohorts, five completed the apprenticeship and received an employment offer from the City of Collinsville. Two of the apprentices employed for the City of Collinsville concurrently take post-secondary education classes. Now, the program is on its third cohort of apprentices. In addition, the collaborators behind the program have recently expanded their efforts with additional school districts, employers, and Registered Apprenticeships.

For more success stories, visit the LEAD Center’s new webpage, Employment Success Stories.


Resource: Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Blending, Braiding, and Sequencing Webpage

This webpage explains how collaboration efforts between federal, state, and local entities can maximize employment, inclusion, and economic advancement outcomes for disabled people.

Resource: The Good Jobs Principles and People with Disabilities Fact Sheet

This fact sheet answers various questions about the Investing in America (IIA) agenda, including how businesses and job seekers with barriers to employment can mutually benefit from the IIA agenda, the Good Jobs principles, and Universal Design.

Resource: The Office of Apprenticeship Website

For those inspired by the Collinsville success story, this website outlines policy, investments, opportunities, registered apprenticeship data and statistics, and more.


The Good Jobs Initiative (GJI): Creating Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities (October 26, 2023)

In this webinar, employers and the people with disabilities they employ in good jobs describe their experiences, available supports, and the ways that employees with disabilities have benefitted their businesses.

In-Depth Q&A Event: Blended, Braided, and Sequenced Funding for Employment, Equity, and Inclusion (August 11, 2022)

This unique question-and-answer event brought together professionals from Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, North Carolina, and multiple federal agencies to answer detailed implementation and policy questions related to BBS resources and funding. These best practice strategies support positive employment outcomes and promote equity and inclusion for disabled people.

Celebrating Olmstead: How Blending, Braiding, and Sequencing Leads to Integrated Employment (June 29, 2022)

In this federal interagency webinar, the second in a series of webinars on BBS, Maryland shares their promising practices at the state and local levels, including lessons learned and tools they use to sustain their partnerships.

How Blended, Braided, or Sequenced Funding Can Help Drive Employment, Equity, and Inclusion (March 22, 2022)

In this federal interagency webinar, state and local practitioners across the workforce systems supporting people with disabilities from Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina discuss how they successfully apply innovative, collaborative resource sharing that benefits both businesses and job seekers with disabilities.


Webinar: Participant Individual Record Layout (PIRL) Disability Elements: Focus on Data Quality: March 4, 2024 1:30-3:00pm ET; register here.

Webinar: The Good Jobs Initiative (GJI), Part 2

Webinar: Celebrating Financial Literacy Awareness Month

Webinar: Launch of the updated Section 188 Disability Reference Guide