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Kessler Foundation Awards $450,000 for Faith Communities to Support Disability Employment

WEST ORANGE, NJ -- (Marketwired) -- 03/11/14 -- Kessler Foundation awarded a $449,961 grant to Vanderbilt University Kennedy Center, in Nashville, Tenn., to expand, "Putting Faith to Work" -- an initiative to equip faith communities with tools to support employment for their members with disabilities. The grant is part of more than $2.7 million distributed by Kessler Foundation to organizations around the U.S. to create or expand job training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Through this project, faith communities will build their capacity to address employment needs of their members with disabilities, connect them with job opportunities in their fields of interest and provide individualized support. Under the grant, congregations in Minn., TX, Ky. and Tenn. will receive accessible and customized training and the tools and technical assistance necessary to increase the services that they provide for their members.

"Faith communities provide spiritual and emotional support as well as resources for their members," said Elaine Katz, senior vice president of the Program Center at Kessler Foundation. "Their reach runs deep throughout the towns and cities they serve, which makes them a great asset to connect employers with their talented members with disabilities. Employment status is a huge indicator of quality of life. By helping their members find meaningful jobs, faith communities will be improving their physical and emotional well-being."

Goals for "Putting Faith to Work" include recruiting and training congregations in each of the four states to assist 15 individuals with disabilities in each state to find employment; supporting congregations, either working alone or in conjunction with disability organizations or service providers, to implement the model to address local employment needs; evaluating results to refine strategies; and disseminating resources and results.

Signature Employment Grants are Kessler Foundation's largest grants. Awarded for a period of two years, Signature Grants range from $250,000 to $500,000. This is the third year that the Signature Grants were available to organizations nationwide.

About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.

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