SOURCE: Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation

January 25, 2017 13:44 ET

Kessler Foundation Announces Opening of 2017 Signature Employment Grant Cycle

Concept Deadline March 17, 2017 - 5:00 pm ET

EAST HANOVER, NJ--(Marketwired - January 25, 2017) - Each year, Kessler Foundation awards more than $2 million to national and local programs that expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Applicants for this year's Signature Employment Grants Program must submit their online grant concept by 5:00 pm on March 17, 2017.

Signature Employment Grants are awarded nationally to fund new pilot initiatives, demonstration projects, or social ventures that lead to the generation of new ideas to solve the high unemployment and underemployment of individuals with disabilities. A complete listing of Foundation grants is available on our website under What We Fund, see Grant Listings by Year.

Preference is given for interventions that overcome specific employment barriers related to long-term dependence on public assistance and advance competitive employment in a cost-effective manner. Signature grants are not intended to fund project expansions or bring proven projects to new communities, unless there is a significant scale, scope, or replicable component.

Innovation lies at the core of all signature employment grants. We define innovation as a new idea or process that will improve systems to increase employment outcomes for people with disabilities. Innovation can often improve systems already in place. Innovation requires careful analysis of the needs of individuals served: identifying the idea, program, service, or workflow needed to promote employment. It may require deliberate application of information, imagination, and initiation for generating new ideas that can serve as a catalyst for creating better solutions to obtain and maintain employment. These ideas may be original or may use existing solutions or technologies in a new way.

For purposes of this grant, the intervention must reverberate beyond your institution alone. Ideas should be innovative within the state, the nation, or the employment field.


Any organization recognized as a tax-exempt entity according to the Internal Revenue Code may apply for funding. This includes non-profit agencies, public or private schools, and public institutions, such as universities and governmental entities, based in the United States or its territories.

Geographic Priorities

For 2017, Kessler Foundation has prioritized serving Americans with disabilities that live in rural states and other areas with more limited service delivery. We will give priority to proposals that foster collaboration among different community agencies, local government, and business to promote employment for people with disabilities in these communities. Although Signature Grants proposals can be submitted from any state, funding priority is given to projects serving individuals in the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Funding Guidelines

All interested applicants must submit an online concept application. After scoring and review, a selected group of candidates will be asked to submit a full grant proposal.

Organizations may apply for up to two years of funding. Yearly funding ranges from $100,000 - $250,000, with maximum project funding at $500,000.

Organizations approved for funding must obtain matching funds equal to 15 percent of the Kessler Foundation grant. Grant recipients will be required to submit documentation with the source, date, and amount of the matching funds or a pledge letter that meets the matching funds requirement. Initial grant funds will be disbursed upon receipt by the Foundation of a pledge or matching funds letter. Please note, the matching funds must be received by the grantee organization within 6 months of the date on the pledge letter in order for the Foundation to continue its funding of the grant project. Up to 15% for indirect costs may be included in the program or project budget.

All approved grants will be assigned an external evaluator paid for by the Foundation.

Key Dates

Grant Concept Deadline: March 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm ET

Grant Concept Acceptance Notification: May 15, 2017

Invited Full Proposal Deadline: July 10, 2017 at 5:00 pm ET

Grant Approval: December 8, 2017

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

Need More Information?

Visit and select What We Fund for additional grant guidelines and FAQ's.

For additional questions, please email us at only after visiting our website and reviewing the online application.

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