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Kessler Foundation Grants $450,000 to Ability Beyond for PepsiCo Disability Employment Initiative

WEST ORANGE, NJ -- (Marketwired) -- 03/11/14 -- Kessler Foundation awarded a $450,000 Signature Employment Grant to Ability Beyond, in Bethel, Conn., to expand a disability employment initiative with PepsiCo called Pepsi ACT (Achieving Change Together). 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.

In 2013, PepsiCo funded a thorough internal study, partnering with Ability Beyond to help better identify key opportunities for PepsiCo to enhance its recruiting, screening, hiring, training and advancement for people with disabilities. Pepsi ACT will address the findings and create a universally accessible career experience for all jobseekers.

"People with disabilities are often under recognized as loyal, hardworking contributors who add tremendous value to the workplace," said Elaine Katz, senior vice president of the Program Center at Kessler Foundation. "We're excited to have a large corporation such as PepsiCo committed to integrating workers with disabilities and demonstrating that maximizing diversity improves productivity. With a solid strategy for success, our collaboration with Ability Beyond and PepsiCo will demonstrate the potential for public-private partnerships to expand the hiring of large numbers of people with disabilities."

"We are thrilled to receive such a generous gift from Kessler Foundation to support the Pepsi ACT initiative," said Thomas H. Fanning, president and chief executive officer of Ability Beyond. "This project underscores our commitment to close the employment gap for people with disabilities, not only in our neighborhood but throughout the nation. Additionally, we are pleased to offer our deep well of knowledge and experience to companies as they strive to align their workforce demographics with the changing face of America."

"PepsiCo is committed to hiring the best and brightest talent," said Pamela Culpepper, senior vice president of Global Diversity and Inclusion Officer of PepsiCo. "Creating an environment and culture of inclusivity is critical to developing tomorrow's workforce. Innovative programs like Pepsi ACT allow us to increase outreach to people with disabilities and engage them in gratifying careers with PepsiCo."

Pepsi ACT will maximize company efficiency, while increasing the hiring and retention of people with disabilities throughout PepsiCo's U.S. business. PepsiCo currently has pilot programs underway in its North America Beverages division. Ability Beyond will share the program's best practices with its other partner companies.

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. The Foundation, therefore, is funding the first two years of Pepsi ACT, along with the Poses Family Foundation, Autism Speaks and New York Collaborates for Autism. The initiative is expected to continue for four years.

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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