Education Department Awards $177 Million in New Grants to Increase Competitive Integrated Employment for People with Disabilities

Education Department Awards $177 Million in New Grants to Increase Competitive Integrated Employment for People with Disabilities

September 21, 2022

Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) announced new five-year grant awards for the Subminimum Wage to Competitive Integrated Employment (SWTCIE) demonstration project to 14 state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies. The purpose of these grants is to decrease the use of subminimum wages and increase access to competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities.

These VR agencies will receive funding from the Disability Innovation Fund (DIF) to support increasing access for people with disabilities to jobs that pay good wages.

“President Biden always says that a good-paying job is about more than a paycheck, it’s about dignity, and that’s why we can no longer accept a status quo in which so many individuals with disabilities are segregated from the workforce and relegated into poverty-wage jobs that offer no pathway to higher earnings,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “Our Real Pay for Real Jobs Initiative is about building a more equitable, inclusive workforce that thrives on the talents of Americans of all abilities. These grants will support innovative efforts underway across the country to provide educational opportunities to youth and adults with disabilities so they can secure better-paying jobs, build economic security, and lead more fulfilling, independent lives.”

This grant program advances a key Biden-Harris Administration goal of strengthening the economic security of Americans with disabilities. These grants align existing and emerging employment opportunities with the needs of employers and our nation’s public infrastructure. Using innovative approaches, state vocational rehabilitation agencies will assist job seekers with disabilities to secure high-quality jobs for real pay in the areas of green jobs, essential worker industries, the transportation industry, and the arts in which they will work alongside their non-disabled peers at comparable wages. Each project embraces collaborative efforts among multiple partners and stakeholders, including state and local providers, public and private employers, and advocates.

“Far too many people with disabilities would like to work but are living in poverty because they have not had the opportunity to find a career in a competitive integrated employment. Further, too many continue to work under a discriminatory exception to the Fair Labor Standards Act that permits workers with disabilities to be paid less than the minimum wage,” said Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, House Committee on Education and Labor. “This historic investment in support of innovative activities aimed at increasing competitive integrated employment will help ensure that people with disabilities have meaningful opportunities not only to work but to thrive in their communities.”

“Every worker with a disability deserves to be paid fairly for their work and deserves the opportunity to find a good-paying job that allows them to build for their future and thrive,” said Senator Murray, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).

“These grants are a big step forward to connect Americans with disabilities with quality jobs and help end the truly backward practice of paying workers subminimum wages simply because they have a disability.” This grant program expands on the Biden Administration’s continued dedication towards programs that support individuals with disabilities to prepare for and achieve competitive integrated employment. RSA administers formula and discretionary grant programs that develop and implement comprehensive systems of vocational rehabilitation, support employment, and create independent living services for older individuals who are blind through the provision of services, training, and advocacy to maximize the employment, independence, and integration of individuals with disabilities in their communities. In FY 2022, these programs were funded at nearly $3.8 billion and served over 1,500,000 individuals with disabilities across the United States.

“Individuals with disabilities who are served by the SWTCIE grantees will be able to enjoy the four principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act: equality of opportunity; full participation; independent living; and economic self-sufficiency,” said Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Deputy Assistant Secretary Katy Neas.

 

The awardees are listed below:


State

Awardee

Amount

California 

California Department of Rehabilitation

$13,943,946.00  

Connecticut 

Connecticut State Department of Aging and Disability Service, Bureau of Rehabilitation Services 

$13,943,946.00 

Florida 

Florida Department of Education: Vocational Rehabilitation  

$13,151,555.99 

Georgia 

Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency: Vocational Rehabilitation 

$3,729,740.00 

Illinois 

Illinois Department of Human Services 

$13,943,946.00 

Indiana 

Indiana Family and Social Services Administration: Disability and Rehabilitation Services 

$13,935,839.00 

Iowa 

Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services  

$13,875,048.55 

Minnesota 

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development: Vocational Rehabilitation Services  

$13,000,000.00  

New York 

New York State Education Department, Adult Career and Continuing Education Services, Vocational Rehabilitation  

$13,943,946.00  

North Carolina 

North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation  

$13,852,567.00  

Ohio 

Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities: Vocational Rehabilitation  

$8,973,845.79  

Pennsylvania 

Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation 

$13,943,300.47 

Texas 

Texas Workforce Commission: Vocational Rehabilitation 

$13,341,599.00 

Virginia 

Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services  

$13,829,686.58 

The Department's Rehabilitation Services Administration web page provides additional information about the awardees and vocational rehabilitation opportunities for people with disabilities.