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Grants fund new efforts to support people with disabilities

8/2/2018 9:57:50 AM

Media inquiries only
Sarah Berg
The Minnesota Department of Human Services has awarded $2.6 million to community organizations for efforts supporting the goals of competitive jobs, stable housing and community involvement for people with disabilities. The grants will help lead to better choices and outcomes for people with disabilities. 
Over the next two years, the grants will fund innovative ideas such as providing mentors for young people with disabilities interning at businesses, helping with rent deposits, moving costs and apartment set-up and supporting those with disabilities in the competitive workforce. 
Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper today visited Interact Center in St. Paul, which will use $491,433 to help artists with disabilities market original artwork online and in galleries throughout Minnesota and nationally. The “Proclaiming Our Place” initiative will help artists earn income through sales of their work and create opportunities for community engagement.
“These grants will help expand options and pathways for people with disabilities to live the lives they want,” Piper said. “These organizations are broadening choices for people to live, work and engage in their communities.”
The large innovation grants program is one of three disability innovation grants programs DHS offers to organizations throughout Minnesota, alongside a small innovation grants program and a micro-grant program. Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature first appropriated funding for the three grant programs in 2015.
Other grantees are listed below:
  • Guild Employment Services, St. Paul, $483,470 to support youth with disabilities transitioning into employment and adults with disabilities in competitive jobs. 
    • Guild is pioneering individualized placements and support for youth with disabilities moving into jobs. They also support adults with disabilities working with people who do not have disabilities. Dakota and Scott counties have partnered with Guild to support employment, part of recovery for those with serious mental illnesses. 
  • The Institutes for Community Inclusion, Minneapolis and Boston, $560,000 to help people with disabilities across the state achieve integrated, competitive employment with an emphasis on those with more significant disabilities.
    • The University of Minnesota, the University of Massachusetts Boston and others will help service providers statewide build capacity to support people with disabilities and offer technical assistance to increase community integration.
  • Opportunity Partners, Minnetonka, $293,035 to provide mentors to people with disabilities interning at Twin Cities businesses.
    • This agency provides disability awareness training for businesses, supports mentors at each internship site and helps interns to make arrangements for transportation to work.
  • RISE, Minneapolis, up to $294,000 to place young adults in paying jobs with people who don’t have disabilities.
    • The new “Let’s Get to Work” program focuses on 18- to 24-year-olds eligible for public assistance, including individuals with significant barriers to competitive employment. RISE will be paid for success in helping people develop customized employment plans, securing jobs and maintaining them over 90 days. 
  • Rochester Public Schools, Rochester, $264,927 to support youth ages 16 to 21 whose needs have not been met through traditional educational and rehabilitative programming.
    • The Launching Emerging Adults Program supports young people in the Rochester area who have mental health disorders, histories of adverse childhood experiences, chemical use and/or physical aggression, with the goals of improving overall functioning, participation in competitive employment and access to housing options.
  • Touchstone Mental Health, Minneapolis, $235,040 to help people find housing of their choice and explore employment and vocational services. 
    • Expanding with new funds, the Housing Innovation Program helps clients consider work and develop employment skills such as having a schedule and engaging in work conversations. Grant funds will pay for deposits, moving costs and apartment set-up.
More information on the innovation grants programs is available on the department's website or by emailing
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