The Kessler Foundation in East Hanover, New Jersey, has announced that it awarded approximately $2.5 million in grants during 2018 in support of initiatives aimed at creating or expanding job training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Through its Signature Grants program, the foundation awarded more than $1.3 million to launch four initiatives in eight states. Two-year grants ranging from $175,000 to $500,000 were awarded in support of pilot initiatives, demonstration projects, and social ventures, including $425,000 to the Advocacy Center of Louisiana in support of efforts to improve employment outcomes and reduce recidivism rates among formerly incarcerated Louisianans with disabilities; $400,000 to the Chicago-based Lester and Rosalie Anixter Center in support of its efforts to produce long-term change in healthcare and disability services systems; and $175,000 to Arc of the United States in Washington, D.C., in support of JusticeWorks, a pilot project focused on employing young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In addition, the foundation awarded thirteen grants totaling $480,000 through its Community Employment grants program, which is focused on high school age and young adults living with physical or mental disabilities, including autism, paralysis, and behavioral, emotional, and intellectual challenges. Another $130,000 in Special Initiative grants was awarded to eleven programs in New Jersey.
"Through these grants, the foundation aims to bring awareness to the diverse and often overlooked talent pool that is individuals with disabilities," said Kessler Foundation president and CEO Rodger DeRose. "Finding and retaining skilled employees is a challenge for many companies today. Our National Employment and Disability Survey, Supervisor Perspectives, however, found that many companies are underutilizing recruitment practices that can help them achieve their hiring goals. These grants support model initiatives that help pave new directions for increasing inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace."