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Expanding opportunity for people with disabilities

$1.8 million in grants encourages employment, integration

4/5/2017 10:09:25 AM

Sarah Berg
The Minnesota Department of Human Services has awarded 10 grants totaling nearly $1.8 million to help service providers find new ways to promote integration of people with disabilities in their communities.
“We are excited providers are innovating to make sure people with disabilities have opportunities to fully participate in their communities as workers and engaged citizens,” said DHS Assistant Commissioner Claire Wilson. “We hope to learn new, promising ways to help people with disabilities realize their life goals.”
This is the first round of funding under state legislation calling for DHS to provide incentives for providers to innovate to achieve positive outcomes for people with disabilities, including competitive employment and living in the most integrated settings.
The Arc Minnesota, for example, will work with its regional chapters and use $350,000 for a statewide employment training and capacity building initiative called A Working Life Alliance. The goal is to achieve a statewide vision of competitive employment for people with disabilities including: introducing 350 people to competitive employment options; establishing 12 employment learning communities to support 180 job seekers; creating an accessible employment toolkit; and providing a variety of employment trainings and workshops throughout Minnesota. 
Centers for Independent Living in the Twin Cities metro, Central Minnesota and Southeastern Minnesota will receive $149,962 to launch a civic engagement training and mentoring program to help 120 people with disabilities be effective self-advocates. 
Other grantees, the amount of their grants and their projects are as follows:
Altair Accountable Care Organization, based in St. Paul, $150,000, will develop for up to 50 people a LifePlan identifying the wants and needs of each person and a plan for achievement. The goal is to increase the number of people with disabilities working in competitive jobs, living in the most integrated setting and having valued social roles in the community. 
Community Involvement Programs, based in Minneapolis, $129,576, will provide training, technical assistance and support to people directing their own supports and services. The project will use a self-discovery tool with 36 people as they direct their own services to gain competitive employment.  
Kaposia, based in Little Canada, $174,000, will use funding to secure integrated, competitive employment for up to 30 people. Kaposia will work with two school districts in the Twin Cities area on a discovery process so that 20 students with disabilities will begin competitive jobs before leaving high school. This funding will also help establish a leadership group of current day treatment and habilitation providers focused on moving toward competitive, integrated employment of people with disabilities. 
Lifetrack Resources, based in St. Paul, $185,900, is developing a competitive, integrated employment program for up to 30 refugees and immigrants with disabilities, particularly those with mental illness. 
Midwest Special Services (MSS), based in St. Paul, $131,170, will convert its East Side St. Paul day training and habilitation facility to a community hub where employment training, art training and other resources are provided to the whole community, including people with disabilities. Up to 50 people also will receive training and skills building in the area of their choice, including the visual and culinary arts. 
RISE of St. Paul and Minneapolis, $150,000, will fund the Work is for Everyone program to place up to 32 people with complex and significant disabilities in competitive, integrated employment. The program will focus on people who have not had the opportunity to try competitive employment. 
STAR Services, based in St. Paul, $139,731, will provide six agencies with person-centered planning services, including organization-wide trainings and mentoring on person-centered practices. STAR will also provide training on community inclusion to organizations and communities.
Touchstone Mental Health, based in Minneapolis, $219,373, will provide support and services for up to 44 people so they can maintain their housing while experiencing a mental health crisis or psychiatric hospitalization. Strategies will include landlord incentives, pre-housing access services and flexible funding to assist with applications, deposit, rent, moving expenses and supplies. 
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