WASHINGTON Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today announced four two-year cooperative agreements totaling $2,165,998 to consortia led by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois in Chicago, the National Organization on Disability in New York City, TransCen Inc. in Rockville, Md., and the World Institute on Disability in Oakland, Calif. These awards represent the second round of funding provided through the "Add Us In" initiative of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy. The first round of awards was made in September 2010.
"This administration is committed to expanding job opportunities for all Americans, including those with disabilities," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The Add Us In initiative addresses employment disparities for people with disabilities by helping employers integrate disability and diversity considerations into their workforce planning."
The goal of the "Add Us In" initiative is to identify and develop strategies to increase the capacity of small businesses and communities, including underrepresented and historically excluded communities, to employ youth and young adults with disabilities. To achieve this goal, the consortia will create replicable models and strategies that can be used nationwide by businesses and employers to reach out to people with disabilities in their communities; develop sustainable partnerships between businesses and organizations addressing issues of diversity and disability; and build national and local networks of experts skilled in meeting the needs of business while also serving individuals with disabilities.
More than 10 million Americans who are members of ethnic and racial minority groups have long-lasting disabling conditions or impairments. Researchers have found that individuals with disabilities from these groups are often at increased risk for unemployment. Recent data from the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that, as of August 2011, the percentage of individuals with disabilities that participate in the labor force is 21 percent, compared with 69.9 percent for individuals with no disability. The unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is 16.1 percent, compared with 8.8 percent for individuals with no disability.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez noted, "Small businesses, particularly in minority and underserved communities, offer a real opportunity to improve employment outcomes for one of our country's most underutilized talent pools. People with disabilities, in turn, can improve the competitiveness of our nation's small businesses because of the unique skills and perspectives they bring."
The Office of Disability Employment Policy provides national leadership on disability employment policy by developing and influencing the use of evidence-based disability employment policies and practices, building collaborative partnerships, and delivering authoritative and credible data on employment of people with disabilities.
To learn more about the Add Us In initiative, visit http://www.dol.gov/odep.
Editor's note: A complete listing of the consortia and their members follows this release.
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Add Us In Initiative — Cooperative Agreements Awarded Sept. 2011
The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois in Chicago, Ill.
Federacion Jalicience del Medio Oeste de los Estados Unidos;
Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital; Youth Connection Charter School; Division of Rehabilitation Services of Illinois; Asians with Disabilities Outreach Project Think Tank; and the University of Illinois — Chicago Center on Capacity Building for Minorities with Disabilities
National Organization on Disability in New York, N.Y.
Workforce Investment Board; Vocational Rehabilitation; New Jersey Youth Corp.; the LGBT Chamber of Commerce; the African American Chamber of Commerce; the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce; the MOASAIC Center on Disability Employment; and the Elizabeth M. Boggs Center
TransCen Inc. in Rockville, Md.
Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board; Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County; and the Hispanic Business Foundation of Maryland Inc.
World Institute on Disability in Oakland, Calif.
National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce; Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities; California Department of Rehabilitation; EIN SOF Communications; and Always Good to Go