Nebraska Department of Education: Vocational Rehabilitation
- Funding Amount: $8,469,796.23 (H421C210021)
- Project Director: Mary Kunes-Neary
- RSA Project Officer: Jessica Queener
Nebraska VR and its leadership have been committed to a progressive approach in meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities and businesses. This approach is important because individuals with disabilities are often not earning a substantial wage and employer provided benefits as their peers without disabilities. The proposed Career Pathway Advancement Project represents the next evolution of Vocational Rehabilitation by proactively improving the likelihood of economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities through an aggressive campaign of outreach, recruitment, and services to support advancement in high demand jobs in the career pathways of Administrative Support, Construction, Healthcare Science Support and Therapeutic Services, Lodging, Manufacturing, Professional Sales, Restaurant & Food Beverage Service, and Transportation, Distribution and Logistics (TDL). The proposed project will build off an existing Nebraska Career Pathway Advancement Project grant which promoted upskilling/backfilling and advancing incumbent workers with disabilities. This project has a more robust scope of work adding additional staff, additional contacts with businesses and clients, as well as developing an electronic data system that provides for housing information regarding short-term industry specific training/credentialing. This database will be accessible to VR, CPAP and workforce partner staff. This project will expand partnerships with Career, Technical and Adult Education, WIOA partners and the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) allowing 350 VR eligible individuals over the course of the project to access career pathway partnerships with businesses and educational institutions. A proven Upskill/Backfill business model will be used to create opportunities for former VR eligible individuals to advance their careers and open up new opportunities for other VR eligible individuals. Allowing for new VR eligible individuals to enter a career pathway with opportunities for advancement.
Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation
- Funding Amount: $18,186,503.00 (H421C210026)
- Project Director: Sabrina Cunliffe
- RSA Project Officer: Kristen Rhinehart
The proposed model demonstration project by Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), called the Inclusive Career Advancement Program (ICAP), will meet the priority requirement to provide access to existing career pathways in the state for VR clients. ICAP will leverage Oregon’s current statewide success in utilizing career pathways for other populations, including integrated education and wraparound support, to advance educational and economic equity for people with disabilities including those from marginalized populations. ICAP will braid the supports and services of all 17 Community Colleges (urban, suburban, and rural) in the state, the Department of Human Service’s VR program and the state’s Self-Sufficiency Programs in addition to local collaboration with employers and other WIOA workforce partners. ICAP is a comprehensive, coordinated and personalized approach to engage 500 VR clients through the provision of layered coaching supports and navigation capacity (an evidence-based practice for increasing access and success at community college campuses in Oregon) with the current taxonomy of VR services. Cornell University, a core ICAP partner, will evaluate the project’s implementation and performance to document the efficacy of specific practices and strategies implemented by ICAP. These findings will be disseminated nationally to expand access and opportunities for people with disabilities to enter and be supported in career pathways
Vermont Agency of Human Services: Vocational Rehabilitation
- Funding Amount: $6,589,481.00 (H421C210003)
- Project Director: Richard Tulikangas
- RSA Project Officer: Darryl “Tony” Glover
Credentialed training programs, including Pre-apprenticeships, Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAP) and other ‘earn & learn’ programs, are proven strategies to help workers gain skills and enter high wage employment. Unfortunately, people with disabilities often do not have access to or the support they need to succeed in these programs. In response to the Rehabilitation Services Administration’s (RSA) DIF absolute priority for a Career Advancement Initiative Model Demonstration Project, the Vermont Career Advancement Project (VCAP) proposes to address this challenge by piloting a new practice framework for vocational rehabilitation (VR) services that includes piloting a new role, the Career Pathways Navigator, throughout the state. These new positions will provide specialized support allowing VR consumers to enroll and succeed in credentialed earn while you learn programs. VCAP will establish a robust partnership with the Vermont Department of Labor (VDOL), the Community College of Vermont (CCV), Vermont Technical College (VTC), and secondary Career and Technical Education Centers (CTEs), to build on-ramps enabling individuals with disabilities to pursue high quality, good paying careers. The project will embed dedicated Career Pathways Student Advisors in these post-secondary programs for intensive support to VCAP participants. VCAP will also partner with other work force development organizations, including ReSource, to expand paid, credentialed occupational training programs in response to employer needs. The VCAP will also ensure participants have access to necessary supplemental supports, such as assistive technology, tutoring, training tools, financial literacy, transportation, and job coaching, to succeed in apprenticeships and other earn & learn opportunities. These supports will include benefits counseling services for participating Social Security disability beneficiaries. Utilizing the best available employment projections for high quality, high wage career pathway opportunities in Vermont, the VCAP has identified the following five career sectors for the project: Advanced Manufacturing, Financial Services, Healthcare, Skilled Construction Trades, and Information Technology. VCAP will utilize its extensive network of employer contacts through its Business Account Managers to engage employers in offering opportunities in these sectors. CCV and VTC, which have extensive program development experience and expertise, will provide required Related Instruction for apprenticeships and other credentialed programs. These programs will be linked directly to secondary and adult programs offered through the state’s 17 Career and Technical Education (CTE) centers. The project will enroll 500 participants, of whom 375 will earn Industry Recognized Credentials and 75 will enroll in Registered Apprenticeships. 75% of participants will exit their programs employed and earning at least 150% of the state’s minimum wage. The project will use Mathematica, a highly accomplished national evaluator with extensive experience working in Vermont, to identify key performance measures and conduct a comprehensive evaluation of intended project outcomes. Project results will be shared broadly with all partners as well as with RSA and other state VR agencies, to ensure use of best practices and to work toward continuous improvement of the system.
Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity: Michigan Rehabilitation Services
- Funding Amount: $15,825,520.00 (H421C210010)
- Project Director: Maureen Webster
- RSA Project Director: Karin Grandon
Development and Validation of Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) Interventions for VR Customers – A Career Pathway for Quality Employment and Upward Mobility in STEMM Fields: Project STEMM-UP The COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement reveal far-reaching issues and disparities experienced by individuals with disabilities from racial/ethnic minority and other marginalized groups (IWD-REM). In vocational rehabilitation (VR), the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) issued a statement condemning and rejecting racism and inequities in all forms, calling attention to the systemic oppression of minorities, including individuals with disabilities. Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) (Congressional District 8), Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (LRS) (Congressional District 6), Michigan State University (MSU) and Southern University in Baton Rouge (SUBR) formed a consortium to address employment disparities experienced by IWD-REM and the intent of CFDA 84.421C, Disability Innovation Fund (DIF) – Career Advancement Model Demonstration Project utilizing Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) Based Interventions. Ms. Tina Fullerton, Director of MRS, will serve as the Project Director (0.05FTE), and Ms. Melissa Bayham, Director of LRS, as the Project Co-Director (0.15FTE). Goal of Project: To address both the absolute and invitational priorities of developing and using career pathways that will assist VR-eligible IWD-REM in competitive integrated employment (CIE) in demand jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM) fields. It will be achieved in two phases. Phase 1 – Needs Assessments: Objective #1: Conduct a comprehensive analysis of the disability, diversity and inclusion policies and procedures of MRS and LRS. Objective #2: Conduct focus groups with executive management, mid-level management, and counselors to evaluate: their current practices, technical assistance and training needs, outreach, and strategies to engage potential VR-eligible customers in the IWD-REM communities and promote VR services to help them gain employment in STEMM occupations. Objective #3: Conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to evaluate the readiness of MRS and LRS to adapt to the “blended” workplace trend; to evaluate the technology infrastructure, readiness, and technical assistance and training needs of VR counselors to provide remote services and interventions using video communication technology to help VR customers achieve their career development goals. Phase 2 – Intervention Development, Implementation and Evaluation: Objective #4: Develop and implement remote and in-person SCCT interventions to help VR customers who are IWD-REM and on the STEMM track to increase their academic and career self-efficacy, career outcome expectancy, crystallized career interests, and goal persistence in their STEMM education and training, leading to job placement in STEMM occupations. Objective #5: Conduct qualitative and quantitative program evaluation to establish the effectiveness of the SCCT interventions to improve career pathways and increase job placement of VR customers in STEMM occupations. Target Population: (a) VR-eligible participants interested in STEMM, (b) VR-eligible transition-age students with disabilities interested in STEMM, (c) former VR customers employed in STEMM field who seek career advancement, and (d) other underserved VR-eligible participants interested in STEMM. The project will serve ~850 customers who are IWD-REM. Impact of Project: The DIF will allow MRS and LRS to make a paradigm shift at the system level and implement SCCT interventions to promote successful employment in STEMM disciplines in the following ways: assess customers’ interests and aptitudes, assist in the development of career goals and Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), provide counseling and guidance, and provide needed education and skills enhancement leading to upward mobility.
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development: Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
- Funding Amount: $14,013,750.00 (H421C210018)
- Project Director: Meredith Dressel
- RSA Project Officer: Diandrea Bailey
The Wisconsin Career Advancement Initiative project will create capacity for enhancing career pathways outcomes and impacts for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) consumers. The project aims to improve partner collaboration, train VR and partner staff, implement evidence -based decision making, and provide outreach and support to VR consumers to increase the participation of working-age adults with disabilities in Wisconsin Career Pathways. More specifically, the Wisconsin Career Advancement Initiative will improve Wisconsin WIOA partner coordination and collaboration in providing career advancement opportunities for people with disabilities; increase training partner staff and employer awareness of diversity, equity, inclusion, accommodations, and support to improve success of individuals with disabilities in career advancement; improve VR staff awareness and understanding and use of regional healthcare, manufacturing, construction, and digital technology regional career pathways; use evidence-based decision-making to increase participation of Wisconsin citizens with disabilities in career advancement activities; connect more VR consumers to Wisconsin regional career pathways; and provide VR consumers with training and accommodation support to increase their success in using career pathways, apprenticeships, and work-based learning programs for career advancement. These efforts should lead to increased VR consumer engagement in career advancement opportunities, increased co-enrollment in VR and other workforce programs, increased measurable skills gains and credentials, and increased competitive integrated employment outcomes, including self-staining wages and employer benefits, decreasing the reliance on public benefits. The Wisconsin Career Advancement Initiative will maintain and sustain partnerships, using learned knowledge and practices to continue interagency career pathways practice during and after the grant, integrating practices, so people with disabilities continue to access Wisconsin Career Pathways and improved career advancement well into the future.
Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission: Vocational Rehabilitation Division
- Funding Amount: $17,006,735.54 (H421C210006)
- Project Director: Kathleen Biebel
- RSA Project Officer: Douglas Zhu
The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), in consortium with the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) and the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (MCDHH), proposes a demonstration project entitled, “Road to Independence, Self-Sufficiency, and Employment” or simply the RISE Career Advancement Model. RISE will serve 1,000 vocational rehabilitation (VR)-eligible young adults (YA) with a disability, ages 18–30, with targeted engagement of YA with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, as well as YAs from underserved racial and ethnic groups. MRC is located in Boston, MA, in the 7th Congressional District; RISE is responsive to the Absolute & Invitational priorities. Kathleen Biebel, Ph.D., is MRC Deputy Commissioner and Principal Investigator of RISE (25% FTE); a Project Director (100% FTE) will be hired upon award. RISE posits that the current VR system is poised for disruption. RISE is an alternative to standard VR, focused on enhancing psychological factors shown to have a positive impact on employment and career advancement for YA; namely, self-efficacy, self-awareness, self-sufficiency, and self-advocacy. RISE has three phases: Career Readiness; Career Pathways; and, Career Extended Support, and will be delivered via Integrated Resource Teams separate from standard VR. We expect YA who participate in RISE will have improved levels of career readiness and career sustainability, and decreased reliance on public assistance. An independent Evaluation Team will use sequential and concurrent mixed methods to explicate RISE essential features, understand the perspectives of RISE participants, track RISE outputs, and examine outcomes and costs of RISE compared to standard VR. An Advisory Body comprised of RISE partners, including individuals with disabilities, employers, family members, and community providers, will advise and guide community engagement, outreach, marketing, and dissemination efforts.
California Department of Rehabilitation
- Funding Amount: $18,333,000.00 (H421C210011)
- Project Director: Kelly Rocha
- RSA Project Officer: Karin Grandon
California Department of Rehabilitation (CDOR), Sacramento, CA. Congressional District: 6. Project Director: Kelly Rocha (1.0 FTE) Principal Investigator: Mark Erlichman (.25 FTE). The CDOR is seeking to increase the participation rate of individuals with disabilities in high-wage, high-skill, high-demand careers, including those in STEM occupations through the development and implementation of the Pathways to Success Project (PSP). PSP will target individuals traditionally underrepresented in STEM and other high-wage, skill and demand occupations, including individuals from ethnic and racially diverse communities, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, justice-involved youth and adults, and women. PSP proposes a unique service delivery design by assigning, building and serving statewide caseloads based on the identified goal in the consumer’s Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) rather than geography. PSP will utilize sector-specific specialist teams consisting of a rehabilitation counselor with a business specialist’s support based in five areas of the State where specific high-wage, high-skill and high demand careers, including STEM occupations, exist so the team become experts in the industry and translate that knowledge to increased opportunities to enter career pathways for those occupations. The sector specific teams will effectively engage with businesses, develop work-based learning experiences, internships, apprenticeships, and career-level employment for CDOR consumers. PSP will be supported with state-of-the-art technology that will facilitate distance service delivery and maximize consumer engagement. A cutting edge, nationally utilized Labor Market Information (LMI) tool and system (The Career Index Plus – TCI+) will be customized and integrated with an artificial intelligence system (SARA) to create customized and comprehensive IPE portfolios accessible to VR and school staff, families and consumers that integrate career pathway goals and document relevant LMI supporting informed choice. Stakeholder-driven partnerships will ensure alignment of pathways and pipelines with industry and regional work, credential, apprenticeship, and career opportunities - as well as targeted, supports-enhanced, training through employers, community colleges and career and technical education centers.
Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services: Rehabilitation Services
- Funding Amount: $9,236,300.00 (H421C210015)
- Project Director: David Leon
- RSA Project Officer: April Hammond
Pathways to Careers using Partnerships, Apprenticeships and Equity Name of Applicant: Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services City and State: Richmond, Virginia Congressional District: VA-007 Project Director: David Leon, Deputy Director Workforce Programs, 8004 Franklin Farms Drive, Richmond, VA 23229, (804) 662-7151, David.Leon@dars.virginia.gov; 25% effort Absolute Priority: Career Advancement Initiative Model Demonstration Project The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services will collaborate with multiple agencies within Virginia government including the Department of Human Resource Management, Department of Labor and Industry, Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired, Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center, and other critical public/private sector workforce partners to serve at least 750 VR-eligible individuals with disabilities. Together, they will assist individuals with disabilities who have been traditionally unserved or underserved by Virginia’s workforce system so they can obtain or advance in occupations in either the skills-based trade and industry fields, including STEM, or in state government. These occupations are sustainable and provide a true living wage, as well as freedom from public support. Training and technical assistance will be provided to workforce partners to develop, implement, and sustain policy and system changes to provide future employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The project will also capitalize upon two legislative initiatives recently adopted by the Virginia General Assembly: one that expands employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities in state government and the other that increases diversity, equity, and inclusion opportunities in the Commonwealth. A Pathways Advisory Workgroup inclusive of individuals with disabilities and business and government stakeholders will participate in planning and guiding the project. A robust evaluation process will provide results for broad dissemination.