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Connect 700

The State of Minnesota, as the state's largest employer, should be a leader in promoting employment for people with disabilities. The State of Minnesota should lead by example, improving the state's practices of recruitment, hiring, and retention. On August 4, 2014, Governor Mark Dayton signed Executive Order 14-14, which requires that we do just that as well as increase the percentage of state employees who self-identified as having a disability to represent at least 7% of all state agencies' workforce by August 2018.

MNCDHH led negotiations for Executive Order 14-14. Part of the Governor Dayton's order was to bring back a program that has been in statute for years, but wasn't being used. The Connect 700 program provides qualified applicants with disabilities the opportunity to apply for, be interviewed and be placed in a job for a trial period of 700 hours without competing with other candidates. For more information go to the Connect 7000 W, a pre-probationary trial work program that allows eligible individuals with disabilities the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to perform a specific job for up to 700 hours. This program was officially brought back to Minnesota in October 2016. The press conference that announced the Connect 700 launch included remarks by Governor Mark Dayton, Olmstead Implementation Office's Executive Director Darlene Zangara, and Employment Task Force member and community advocate Alan Parnes. Visit the State of Minnesota's page about Connect 700.

MNCDHH wants to make sure that becoming a state employee is a positive experience for both employees and employers and wants to make sure that there are systems in place that supports everyone. Most hiring managers haven't experienced working with people with disabilities, including people who are deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing. 

Who this impacts

  • Current and future State of Minnesota employees with disabilities, including those who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing
  • State agencies, commissions, and boards


MNCDHH led efforts to develop a guide for state hiring managers that explains what they should do to make sure the work environment is accessible and welcoming. This guide has been distributed to the hiring managers by Minnesota Management & Budget.

If you are a person with a disability and you are interested in state employment, please visit the State of Minnesota's page about Connect 700

Who was involved

  • Mary Hartnett - Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing (MNCDHH) 
  • Ann Feaman - Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development 
  • Steve Kuntz - Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development
  • Dacia VanAlstine - Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development 
  • Vikki Getchell - Minnesota Department of Health
  • Ken Rodgers - Minnesota Department of Transportation
  • Kim Luchsinger - Minnesota Housing and Finance Authority
  • Femina Ajayi-Hackworth - Minnesota Management and Budget (originally from the Minnesota Department of Corrections)
  • Alan Parnes - Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing (MNCDHH) Employment Task Force
  • Colleen Wieck - Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
  • Darlene Zangara - Olmstead Implementation Office
  • Joan Willshire - Minnesota State Council on Disability
  • and many more
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