The Minnesota Department of Human Services has awarded more than $1.2 million in grants to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Disability Services Innovation Grants, first appropriated by the 2016 Legislature, promote employment, independent living, choice of housing and connections with others.
“With an increased focus on equity, we have allocated significant grant funding for the needs of people with disabilities in African immigrant communities,” said Human Services Commissioner Tony Lourey. “Funding is also going to help youth with disabilities in the Twin Cities metro area and in southern Minnesota as they transition out of high school to adult life.”
Receiving grants are:
Autism Society of Minnesota, St. Paul, $381,290 for a collaboration with the Somali American Parent Association and the Multicultural Autism Action Network to increase community participation and engagement among individuals and families affected by autism and related conditions. One focus will be transition-age adults under age 25 from East African communities. Several events will offer information on home- and community-based services, including employment, education and housing. Sensory- and disability-friendly community cultural events also are planned.
Capital Health Services, St. Paul, $355,364 for an initiative that will include outreach to underserved minority populations with disabilities. The organization will focus particularly on helping individuals in Somali, Oromo, Sudanese, Ethiopian, Amharic and Karen communities to get competitive employment alongside people without disabilities.
Opportunity Services, $500,000 for jobs@graduation, a program focused on getting special education students competitive jobs—working alongside people without disabilities—within a year of graduation. Each academic year, students from school districts in Dodge, Olmsted, Goodhue, Stearns, Benton and Sherburne counties will enroll in the program.
DHS has three disability innovation grants programs for organizations throughout Minnesota:
- The Disability Services Innovation Grants program offers grants of up to $500,000 each over two years.
- A Small Innovation Grants program awards between $2,000 and $50,000 per year to people and organizations that work or plan to work with Minnesotans with disabilities.
- A microgrants program, administered by The Arc Minnesota, provides grants of up to $2,000 each to help people with disabilities achieve their personal goals in employment, housing and community participation.