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Kessler Foundation Awards $2.1 Million in Grants to Improve Employment Outcomes for Americans with Disabilities

WEST ORANGE, N.J., Jan. 28, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Kessler Foundation announced $2.1 million in grants to organizations throughout the U.S. to create and expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities, as well as to provide information to aid in the development of new strategies. Since 2005, the Foundation has distributed more than $32 million in funding to improve quality of life for people with disabilities through employment and job training.

"We are proud to support our new grant recipients as they maximize the independence and self-sufficiency of individuals with disabilities," said Rodger DeRose, president and chief executive officer of Kessler Foundation. "These innovative initiatives will lead to employment and generate effective strategies so that more individuals with disabilities earn a paycheck and contribute to the workplace and economy."

More than $1.2 million in Signature Employment Grants were awarded to three disability employment projects. ServiceSource of Florida's "Warrior Bridge Brain Injury Demonstration Project" will increase community integration, self-sufficiency and employment outcomes for individuals with brain injury, including veterans, through a clubhouse model of hands-on work units. "21 and Able," an initiative of United Way of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania, will build the capacity of businesses to employ and retain young people with disabilities, starting at 16 years of age. The University of New Hampshire will conduct a national survey to assess the employment status of Americans with disabilities and determine what strategies work in boosting employment outcomes. Signature Employment Grants, the Foundation's largest grants, range from $250,000 to $500,000 over a two-year period.

"At Kessler Foundation, we believe in supporting unique initiatives that have the potential to support employment opportunities for large numbers of people with disabilities and can be replicated in other states," said Elaine Katz, senior vice president of Grants and Communications. "Our latest grantees not only focus on developing job skills, but they also remove barriers caused by 'fear of the unknown' by working with employers to match individuals to the appropriate jobs, coordinate accommodations and educate staff. The national survey will also educate the disability field on best practices to improve employment outcomes for this talented population."

Also announced were 18 Community Employment Grants, totaling $740,000. These grants expand job training and employment opportunities in New Jersey for adults, students and veterans with disabilities. Projects also include improving access to public transportation to enable individuals with disabilities to get to and from work, as well as summer camp programs that foster job skill development. 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 11 Special Initiative Grants, totaling $150,000, to support exercise and recreational programs, access to museums and the arts, vocational activities and a specialized sensory garden for people with disabilities. Other projects include commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), aiding the recovery of veterans through recreational outings, implementing a course for first responders on alternative methods of rescuing people with disabilities and expanding the New Jersey Safe Schools Program. Special Initiative Grants are invitation only and range from $5,000 to $20,000.

View all of Kessler Foundation's 2014 grantees at http://kesslerfoundation.org/grantprograms/files/Complete_Grant_Listing_2014.pdf.

Kessler Foundation is currently accepting applications for its 2015 national Signature Grants and Community Employment Grants. Signature Grant Concepts are due by February 13, 2015 at 5 p.m. EST. Community Grant applications are due by March 13, 2015 at 5 p.m. EST.

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.

CONTACT: Lauren Scrivo, 973.768.6583, LScrivo@KesslerFoundation.org Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382, CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org

Source:Kessler Foundation