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Millions in grants awarded to help improve outcomes of individuals with disabilities

October 16th, 2014  |  Deborah Hammonds

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) recently announced more than $121 million in grants will be awarded to help improve the outcomes of individuals with disabilities. Using a “cradle through career” approach, the monies are aimed at promoting inclusion, equity and opportunity for all children and adults with disabilities to help ensure their economic self-sufficiency, independent living and full community participation.

“These investments are significant in assisting individuals with disabilities to reach their full potential,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in an October 8 press statement. “We want all individuals with disabilities to succeed and these investments symbolize our values and commitment as a nation toward achieving excellence for all.”

Among the grants, OSERS’ Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) awarded $47 million to fund its comprehensive and coordinated programs of vocational rehabilitation, supported employment and independent living for individuals with disabilities. And, OSERS’ National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) distributed $19 million to institutions of higher education and private and non-profit organizations for innovative, cutting-edge research projects.

Some of the key grants awarded by OSERS include:

University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Technical Assistance Center on Postsecondary Education – Funded at $2.5 million, the National TA Center on Improving Transition to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students with Disabilities (Transition Center) is the first major investment funded jointly out of RSA and OSEP to create a seamless transition process from high school through employment. The Transition Center will work with states, school districts, and vocational rehabilitation agencies to implement evidence-based and promising practices and strategies to ensure that students with disabilities, including those with significant disabilities, graduate from high school with the knowledge, skills, and supports needed for success in postsecondary education and employment.

University of Massachusetts Boston – Funded at $9 million for the next three years, the Job-Driven Vocational Rehabilitation TA Center (JDVRTAC) at the University of Massachusetts-Boston will assist state vocational rehabilitation agencies in developing training and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities that meet the needs of employers and the demands of the local economy.

Gallaudet University – Funded at $950,000, Washington, D.C.-based Gallaudet University will support research and training to improve the accessibility, usability, and performance of technology for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing.

TransCen – Funded at $875,000, TransCen, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving educational and employment outcomes for people with disabilities will support research and training to improve vocational rehabilitation practices for youth and young adults with disabilities.

OSERS’ Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) also awarded $54 million to support research, demonstrations, technical assistance, technology, personnel development and parent-training and information centers. The OSEP grants include $8.7 million to WestED in San Francisco to create a Center for Systemic Improvement (CSI). The $8.7 million grant becomes the largest technical assistance  investment ever funded by OSERS.

A complete list of OSERS new FY 14 grant awards is available on the U.S. Department of Education website.