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Kessler Foundation Awards $412,000 Grant to Easter Seals for Veteran Employment Initiative

WEST ORANGE, NJ -- (Marketwired) -- 03/11/14 -- Kessler Foundation awarded a $412,000 Signature Employment Grant to Easter Seals Greater Washington Baltimore Region to expand Veteran Staffing Network (VSN) -- a social enterprise employment agency for veterans with and without 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.

VSN enables all veterans, wounded warriors, reservists, National Guardsmen and their spouses to pursue their self-defined career paths and obtain meaningful, lasting employment. Jobseekers meet with career coaches to develop individualized solutions to overcoming barriers to employment. Services are comprehensive, including counseling, resume readiness, interview skills networking strategies, job placement, referrals to benefit programs and translation of military skills to the civilian workforce. VSN places jobseekers for direct and temporary hire, and temporary to permanent hire. VSN also serves employers by providing on-the-job support and disability awareness training, as well as workshops on traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder -- the most common wounds of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Adjusting to civilian life is difficult, and it's even more challenging for veterans with disabilities," said Elaine Katz, senior vice president of the Program Center at Kessler Foundation. "We're proud to support an organization that puts this talented and hardworking population back to work and helps them thrive in their careers. It's exciting to have an innovative and sustainable employment model for our men and women in uniform that can easily be replicated in other states. We need to show that we are there for our military and their families, just as they are always there for us."

Approached by the Pentagon to help solve the problem of creating a sustainable employment solution for veterans, Easter Seals piloted the VSN program in 2011 in Washington, D.C. The grant from Kessler Foundation will enable VSN to quickly reach self-sustainability and be replicated in other affiliates across the U.S. Monies will support building the necessary infrastructure and provide staffing.

Over the two-year grant period, VSN intends to directly place 200 veterans in meaningful careers and indirectly place another 200 veterans as a result of its career coaching. Approximately 1,300 veterans, National Guardsmen/reservists, wounded warriors and their spouses who are not job ready will receive ongoing career-coaching services.

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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Carolann Murphy
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