The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of approximately $20 million to fund programs that will improve education, training and employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities. A solicitation for grant applications is published in today's edition of the Federal Register.
The Disability Employment Initiative is a joint project of the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration and its Office of Disability Employment Policy. Programs to be funded will serve individuals who are unemployed, underemployed and/or receiving Social Security disability benefits. The goals of the project are to improve coordination and collaboration across multiple service delivery systems, build effective partnerships that leverage public and private resources to better serve people with disabilities and, ultimately, improve employment outcomes of people with disabilities.
"Workers with disabilities suffer from one of the lowest employment rates of any group in the American population, even in times of prosperity," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "It is vital that state and local agencies work together with private sector partners to improve these statistics. Through this second round of funding, we are expanding the Disability Employment Initiative to include programs in additional states."
Grantees under the Disability Employment Initiative are state workforce agencies. Nine -- in Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, New Jersey, New York and Virginia -- received grants through a first round of funding awarded in September 2010 for a period of three years. This solicitation for applications represents a second round of funding; agencies in the remaining 41 states are eligible to apply. Recipient state workforce agencies will collaborate with workforce investment boards and local agencies. Awards will range from $1.5 to $6 million each to be spent over a three-year period. Cooperative agreements will be used to expand service delivery through the public workforce system to job seekers with disabilities. The programs will build upon the Labor Department's Disability Program Navigator initiative and other model service delivery strategies.
Training and employment services supported by these grants are intended to help reduce the unacceptably low employment rates experienced by people with disabilities. The complete solicitation for applications is available at http://www.doleta.gov/grants.