AboutThe Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) is currently in its eighth round of funding. The performance cycle for each round varies ranging from 36 to 42 months. DEI is jointly funded with the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and administered by the Employment and Training Administration (ETA). Through this joint funding effort, grant awards are made to state workforce agencies to help strengthen the capacity of American Job Centers to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Each grant has been awarded approximately $2 million.
Since 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded grants to 55 projects in 30 states to improve education, training, and employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities totaling approximately $139 million. More recent DOL grants incorporate a Career Pathways focus that includes apprenticeship to align with the goals and objective of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and close the skills gap. DEI strategies include:
- Supporting job-driven approaches that expands opportunities for work-based learning and credentials attainment to obtain in-demand jobs;
- Developing collaborative partnerships at the state and local levels across multiple service delivery systems;
- Promoting physical and programmatic accessibility;
- Braiding of funds and leveraging of resources to promote the participation of individuals with disabilities in the workforce;
- Providing flexible approaches to design and provide training, supportive activities, and innovative workplace strategies;
- Establishing Integrated Resources Teams;
- Expanding the public workforce development system's capacity to become an Employment Network under the Social Security Administration's Ticket to Work program; and
- Creating systems change.