Kessler Foundation Awards $2.3 Million for Disabilities Initiatives

The Kessler Foundation in West Orange, New Jersey, has announced grants totaling $2.3 million for initiatives that create or expand job training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The grants include awards totaling nearly $1.6 million through its Signature Employment Grants program to organizations in four states. Grantees include the Supported Employment Enterprise Corporation's Maryland Customized Employment Project, which will work to improve employment outcomes by building collaborative partnerships with job seekers and their families, state agencies, and employers; the Mercy Health Foundation's Healthcare Workforce Inclusion Model, which combines awareness, education, and inclusiveness training to increase job placement in St. Louis; Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago, which will use the funds to relaunch its Realizing Education and Advancement for Disabled Youth (READY) program; and the Florida Atlantic University Foundation's Bridging the Gap from College to Careers, which will offer a professional workplace-skills curriculum and other supports.

The foundation also awarded seven grants totaling $600,000 through its Community Employment Grants program to advance job training and employment opportunities  for New Jersey residents with disabilities. In addition, Special Initiative Grants totaling $119,000 were awarded to fund recreational activities for veterans and civilians with disabilities, equipment needs for those who are experiencing financial hardships, and a weekend retreat to improve the quality of life of stroke survivors and their caregivers.

"We are pleased with the success of these innovative projects as more people with disabilities enter the workforce," said Kessler Foundation president and CEO Rodger DeRose. "An inclusive workforce not only benefits individuals with disabilities but the workplaces and overall economy as well. Businesses benefit from the creative solutions developed by employees from diverse backgrounds. Making a commitment to hire job seekers with disabilities builds brand loyalty by attracting the $175 billion annual buying power of these individuals and their families. The economy benefits as individuals with disabilities become tax-paying citizens and lessen their reliance on government programs."

For a complete list of recipients, see the Kessler Foundation website.