WEST ORANGE, NJ--(Marketwired - Mar 11, 2014) - Kessler Foundation awarded $2.6 million in grants to organizations throughout the U.S. that increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities and improve quality of life. Grants fund major programs in four states, support smaller disability employment initiatives in the N.J. region and provide relief from Hurricane Sandy to organizations that serve people with disabilities. Since 2005, the Foundation has distributed more than $30 million to support employment for people with disabilities.
"We're proud to announce our new recipients of our grant funding to create or expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities," said Rodger DeRose, president and chief executive officer of Kessler Foundation. "The major projects funded prove the strength of improving employment for individuals with disabilities when we include everyone -- corporations, non-profits, educational institutions and faith communities. Together, we can continue to show the value that employees with disabilities add to the workplace."
Approximately $1.75 million in Signature Employment Grants were distributed to disability employment projects in four states -- Connecticut, Maryland, California and Tennessee. One initiative will launch a large effort to hire and retain employees with disabilities in PepsiCo. The other three projects expand on previous work to help veterans with disabilities find employment, helping soon-to-be college graduates with disabilities transition into careers, and providing tools for faith communities to support employment efforts for their members with disabilities. Signature Employment Grants are Kessler Foundation's largest grants. Awarded for a period of two years, Signature Grants range from $250,000 to $500,000.
"At Kessler Foundation, we focus our grant funding on long-term solutions that have the capability of hiring or placing large numbers of people with disabilities in to meaningful careers," said Elaine Katz, senior vice president of the Program Center. "It's equally important to prepare individuals for employment and give them the resources needed to get to work. Our grantees reflect public/private partnerships for hiring initiatives, job training, and placement and transportation solutions."
Eighteen Community Employment Grants, totaling $712,155, were also awarded to support job training, transportation, employment, accommodations and placement services for people with disabilities, including veterans. Grants also fund programs that raise awareness of the importance of including people with disabilities in the workforce and strategies for hiring. Community Grants are awarded for a one-year period to organizations primarily in the N.J. region and range from $25,000 to $50,000.
Kessler Foundation also awarded nine Special Initiative Grants, totaling $140,000. These invitation-only grants support programs that raise awareness and provide equipment, education, accommodations for special events and resources for people with disabilities. The grants, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, also fund disability initiatives in film and sports.
Kessler Foundation also distributed more than $156,030 in Hurricane Sandy Emergency Grants to non-profit organizations that help individuals with disabilities affected by the storm. Grants addressed immediate needs, such as the loss of equipment and accessible housing, back-up generator power, damaged wheelchairs and modified vehicles and restored operations to disability-related organizations.
View all of Kessler Foundation's 2013 grantees at http://kesslerfoundation.org/grantprograms/grantlistingsbyyear.php
Kessler Foundation is currently accepting applications for its 2014 Community Employment Grants cycle. The deadline for online proposals is March 14.
About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.